Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling is a great book in so many ways. This book caught my eye when I was browsing the shelves of Barnes And Noble. The spine had the title on it in bold, bright letters, and it had a colorful background. Who wouldn’t read a book called Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus? So, I pulled the book off the shelf and saw the almost comic-strip-looking design of the front cover, decorated with a picture of a cactus in a green cape. Naturally, that was one of the books I took home, and immediately started reading. But the cover isn’t the only good thing about this novel.
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus is a perfect story of high school life, and many high schoolers will be able to connect with the story. Aven Green, the main character in this novel, is a girl who was born without arms, but her high school experience is unremarkable otherwise. Bullies. Dangerous lunchtimes. Friendships. Crushes. However, Aven’s life outside of school is anything but ordinary. Aven’s parents run an amusement park; in fact, they dragged her to Arizona for that very reason. Some of Aven’s friends are pretty different, too. Trilby’s homeschooled and likes punk rock. Lando and Zion convinced Aven to attend Comic Con. Connor has Tourette’s Syndrome. Henry, an old man who runs an ice cream shop, is losing his memory. These friends are the people Aven sticks close to, in case trouble comes her way—which it always does—and these are the friends who can embrace Aven’s differences.
The character and plot development in this book are spectacular. There are so many fun facts about every character in this book. Trilby’s dad used to be in a punk band—that’s why she likes punk rock so much! Lando and Zion’s parents are total superhero nerds. Henry doesn’t know where the rest of his family is. Connor likes to sometimes bark like a dog. This abundance of characters keeps you interested throughout the whole book, until you start seeing each character as having their own story and plot. Speaking of plot, all the little things and problems in this book seem separate until they all connect together into the main theme: navigating high school and finding your own community in the process. To all the young people out there: are you strong enough to make your way through high school? Is Aven?
Moments Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. Union Square Kids, 2021. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!