Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Aven Green's missing arms have never been an issue for her or her family. Adopted as a two-year-old, her parents taught her to be a "problem-solving ninja" so that she could do everything people with arms can do. At home in Kansas, Aven is sociable, athletic (soccer is her game) and a prankster. When her father accepts an offer to run Stagecoach Pass, a western-themed amusement park in Arizona, she's not thrilled at the idea of having to make new friends. Sure enough, her new middle school is a challenge. When she meets Connor, a boy with Tourette syndrome, the two immediately bond over the way people behave around them. "They just act weird around me," Aven says, "like they don't know whether to look or not, to ask about it or not. But no one has talked to me like I'm an actual person." When they find a strange room in the park with boxes of intriguing old papers, they join forces to investigate the whereabouts of the mysterious, unseen Stagecoach Pass owner.

Dusti Bowling's story of a regular, hugely likable kid who deals with her unusual challenges with grace and humor is pitch-perfect. Aven and her friends have hilarious conversations (for example, when she and Connor meet: "'I would shake your hand, but....' He motioned toward my armless area, blinking his eyes rapidly and barking as he did so. 'But you have horrible warts all over your hands,' I said.") but it's their empathy and warmth that win the day. Sitting under her favorite centuries-old saguaro cactus, Aven realizes that she may be "an entirely insignificant event in the life of this cactus," but her life does matter, in all its painful, sweet, awkward glory. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Powered by: Xtenit