Rummanah Aasi
Description: Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.

Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

Review: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is an uplifting story about three teens with serious disabilities forming an unlikely friendship as they struggle to cope with everyday life.  message of empathy especially from abled bodies. Aven Green is a tween that tween me would love to have as a friend. She is smart, funny, loves planning pranks, and plays on the school soccer team.  Though Aven was born without arms, she has never let her "lack of armage," as she calls it, deter her from doing anything she sets her mind to. She does not need your pity, but would really appreciate it if you would not stare and call her a freak. When her father gets a job as the manager of Stagecoach Pass, a rundown Western theme park out in Arizona, the family's move, right after Aven has started eighth grade, presents her toughest challenge yet.
  Along with dealing with the new kid jitters, Aven has to everything from scratch including dealing with the many stares and questions of new schoolmates. Aven sorely misses her old life back in Kansas;  however, her optimistic spirit and her infectious sense of humor, keeps her afloat. She is not immune to the constant spotlight of being disabled or labeled weird. She is persistent and looks for the silver linings in her new life in Arizona, such as making friends with the cute but prickly Connor (who has Tourette's syndrome) and Zion who lacks self confidence because of his weight, or enjoying the ability to wear flats all year-round. Aven, Connor, and Zion get wrapped up in the unusual mystery at the heart of Stagecoach Pass: the disappearing tarantulas, a missing photograph, and a secret necklace. Aven is determined to get to the bottom of the secret.
  The characters make this story. As an able bodied person, it is an eye opening read and a reminder of the stigma that is attached to disability. Aven, Connor, and Zion alienate themselves because they've been labeled by others as freaks, but as these characters grow more confident they push back at these expectations. The journey to this point is hard, heartbreaking, and not easy. The author seems to have done her homework in portraying the characters authentically. The mystery in the story, however, is underwhelming and takes a backseat to the character development and relationships. I am happy there will be another book featuring Aven and the crew and I am very much looking forward to reading it.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are mentions of bullying. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw
5 Responses
  1. Sounds like a great book for middle grade readers! I remember when I lived in England for kindergarten, a classmate had no arms as a result of her mom taking thalidomide when she was pregnant. This girl did it all, did it well, and with enthusiasm, which meant we all didn't pay any attention to the fact that she had no arms.

  2. YaY! A book with disabled characters who aren't dying. This sounds like a good book for a kid's library!

  3. So it was a mystery and a coming-of-age? Also a romance? Sounds like a good one that will be a hard sell for your students.

  4. Kindlemom Says:

    This definitely sounds like one I need to pick up and I love when characters take over and really make a book so unique and special. Wonderful review for this!

  5. Even though the mystery was underwhelming, I think there is so much for kids to learn from this book, especially when dealing with characters with disabilities. It sounds like a wonderful read!

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