Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling ★★★☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog

33986447__SX318_Primary Genre(s): Middle Grade, Mystery
Published: 5 Sep 2017 by Sterling Children’s Books
Page count: 262
My Format: Audiobook via Overdrive
Cover: Simple
Pacing: Okay
Ending: Good
Would I recommend it: Yes, to kids
Commission Link: Buy on Amazon

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis from Goodreads
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 Thoughts
This is a solid middle grade book. Here are my pros and cons:


  1. A reasonably positive portrayal of disabilities, particularly children with disabilities, and how they handle their “differences” from others while navigating school in particular and life in general.
  2. There are some heavy topics in this book that are treated respectfully and in a way that would be understood by kids.
  3. Aven’s parents were great characters. Simply perfect.
  4. I loved how Aven was generally positive and super independent and wildly funny.
  5. The setting of the book was fun! What kid wouldn’t want to live at a theme park!?
  6. The ending was good.


  1. It got a little slow/bogged down in the middle.
  2. The mystery the kids were solving was quite contrived and convenient.
  3. There was a little bit of potty humor in the book that I could have done without.
  4. I saw the ending coming a mile away, but I’m not sure kids will.
  5. I don’t think this will be a super memorable book for me. As a matter of fact, I’m confident it won’t. I’m writing this review 3 days after I finished the book and I’m already struggling a bit to remember some of the story. As an adult, it just didn’t have a significant impact on me.

I actually love to read middle grade books. Some are just so endearing and thoughtful and special that I gush about them to others like crazy! This particular book didn’t rise to a favorite for me, but it was a decent story overall. I thought there was a little too much suspension of belief required due to all the convenient events in the story. Overall, as a mystery, the book was just okay (which would have meant a 2 star rating from me). As a lesson to be kind and respectful and to embrace our differences, it was a really good story (which would have been a 4 star rating from me). Considering it all together… it is a solid 3 star book in my opinion.

I’m pretty confident kids would enjoy this book. As a matter of fact, kids should read this book to learn those lessons in kindness, respect, and embracing differences like I mentioned previously.

If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling ★★★☆☆ #BookReview #BookBlog

  1. It’s too bad the mystery needs improvement, but this would be a hard book to write. I’m glad the author got the disabilities part right. I can’t imagine living without arms or having to explain it as a kid in a new setting. I love the title; it makes you stop and say, “Huh?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how Aven was written with such a positive attitude about her situation. I’m not sure I’d be as strong in her situation. She was a great character!

    Liked by 1 person

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