I’ve shared my love for Aven’s story for the past couple years, handing it off to teachers for read alouds, or my 5th graders eager to find a book that grips them like Wonder. In Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus, readers pick up Aven’s story just as she’s about to enter high school - where it’s a challenge for most kids to fit in and find their place, but a different kind of challenge for a girl with no arms. Since closing the cover of the first part of Aven’s story, I’ve been anxious to read about how she would navigate friendships, crushes, and developing her identity as a high schooler.
Reading it for me, I appreciated how author Dusti Bowling incorporated the complexity of family structures, facing tough truths, and authentically showed the insecurities of teenagers finding their place in the world. Aven’s voice is as unique and loveable as she was in the first book, but with the dimension of growing emotional maturity. I also loved how Dusti incorporated Punk Rock throughout, including “showing it to the Man!” There’s a great discovery through the book as Aven comes to understand how other people, and her own insecurities, don’t define her.
For my readers (elementary who are always reaching for Middle Grade titles), I’m thrilled that while this covers life as a 14 year old entering high school, there isn’t any content to stop a mature elementary-aged student from enjoying this book; yet certainly would appeal to teenagers going through these experiences themselves. There are so many amazing lessons to be learned through Aven’s journey, I’ll be encouraging my students to check this one out!
Oh, there's also reference to Cave Creek, AZ, which is just down the road from my parents' home, so it was extra fun to be able to picture the setting very well!