cover image Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Dusti Bowling. Sterling, $14.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4549-2345-9

Thirteen-year-old Aven Green, the heroine of Bowling’s sensitive and funny novel, was born without arms due to a rare genetic condition. When her adoptive parents take jobs at an Arizona theme park, Aven leaves behind her comfortable social life, starting over with new peers and teachers to stare at her. After days of self-consciously eating her lunches in a bathroom stall at school (she eats with her feet), Aven opens up to two students: Connor, who has Tourette’s syndrome, and Zion, who is teased for being overweight. Bowling, the author of three self-published YA novels, lets readers see Aven as a full, complex teenager—even while those around her have trouble doing so—and gives her a sharp sense of humor, including a penchant for inventing gruesome stories about how she lost her arms. Bowling’s novel demonstrates how negotiating others’ discomfort can be one of the most challenging aspects of having a physical difference and how friendship can mitigate that discomfort. A major revelation that leads to a somewhat-too-tidy ending is a minor blemish in an otherwise openhearted, empathic book. Ages 8–12. Agent: Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Sept.)