Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus was one of my favorite summer reads.
The story includes unique characters, including a girl without arms and a boy with Tourettes. Without a doubt, the story helps readers develop empathy for people who are different. Middle-grade readers will also relate to the desire for community and acceptance.
I loved it enough to choose it for my Online Middle School Monthly Fiction Book Club in 2023.
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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Length: 288 pages
First Published: 2019
Publisher’s Description: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
“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.”
My Goodreads Review
Aven Green was born without arms but she loves to embellish the story when someone asks. Now that her father has accepted a job across the country running Stagecoach Pass, a western theme park in Arizona, Aven is going to have to answer questions about her arms all over again to a new set of schoolmates. She unexpectedly makes a new friend who struggles with his own disability and together they continue to learn how to accept themselves and others.
I really enjoyed the main character in this story. She is full of humor and optimism. She has a pretty open and honest relationship with her parents who genuinely care about her well-being and feelings. They talk honestly and push her when necessary, but without controlling her. Her friendship with Connor allows the reader a realistic look at the difficulties of life with different disabilities.
I’ve selected this book for my online middle school book club because of the great characters and relatable themes that are excellent for discussion with middle school students.
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus: Discussion Questions for Your Homeschool Study
1. Why do you think the author chose this title? How is the title ironic based on the message of and the events in the book? (irony: the opposite of what’s expected) Do you think this title was a good choice?
2. Why is the move to Stagecoach Pass so significant? What difficulties does this introduce for Aven?
3. Compare and contrast Aven and Connor. What traits do they share? What traits make them different? Do you think Connor is as comfortable having Tourette’s as Aven is not having arms?
Homeschooling With Books: Discussion Questions To Help You Get Started
Grab this set of questions designed to facilitate a great discussion about any book with your kids:
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