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Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus

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“High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.”   The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school.   Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends a/>The “High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.”   The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school.   Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?


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“High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.”   The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school.   Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends a/>The “High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.”   The sequel to the critically acclaimed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school.   Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

30 review for Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dusti Bowling

    I'm so excited to share more of Aven's adventures with you all! I hope you enjoy them!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate ☀️ Olson

    (free review copy via @kidlitexchange ) I LOVED getting to go back into Aven's world and see how all of her friendships and other relationships evolved over time! Bowling expertly transitioned from a book ABOUT Aven's being differently abled (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus) to a book about a teen girl's (who happens to have no arms) trials and tribulations. Mind you, this is a very important distinction as it takes us from and "issue" book to a "non-issue" book. I loved that evolut (free review copy via @kidlitexchange ) I LOVED getting to go back into Aven's world and see how all of her friendships and other relationships evolved over time! Bowling expertly transitioned from a book ABOUT Aven's being differently abled (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus) to a book about a teen girl's (who happens to have no arms) trials and tribulations. Mind you, this is a very important distinction as it takes us from and "issue" book to a "non-issue" book. I loved that evolution of Aven's story. Overall, I raced through the story and loved the depth and breadth of the characters and setting. I'll definitely be buying this for my elementary and middle school libraries. . PK-12 Librarian note: Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus is set during Aven's first year of high school, and while this makes sense given Aven's age in Insignificant, I personally and professionally think the entire series could have been set much younger, given how young it reads. If Insignificant were set in 5th or 6th grade, then Momentous could have been set in Aven's first year of middle school, which would have read more age-appropriate. Does the age really make a difference in the quality of the novel? Nope, not really, and elementary and early middle school readers won't care. However, my recommended age for this series is grades 3-6 - don't be misguided by the age of the characters into thinking this is anywhere close to mature middle grade or YA.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    This sequel takes Aven to her first year of high school. 3,000 students, but only 700 from her middle school. Her best friend, Connor, has moved across town and now attends a different school. Now, Aven and Zion have to tackle this new chapter on their own. And it's starting off worse than transferring middle schools ever was. Will Aven stay true to herself with so much confusion, hurt, and loss swarming around her? Pre-order this one now! You will want it in hand when it drops on Sep This sequel takes Aven to her first year of high school. 3,000 students, but only 700 from her middle school. Her best friend, Connor, has moved across town and now attends a different school. Now, Aven and Zion have to tackle this new chapter on their own. And it's starting off worse than transferring middle schools ever was. Will Aven stay true to herself with so much confusion, hurt, and loss swarming around her? Pre-order this one now! You will want it in hand when it drops on September 17, 2019! I laughed, I cried, I didn't want it to end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    So happy to get an early copy. Loved it! More soon...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    I am so grateful Dusti wrote this story. I hope middle school and high school students read this book. More to be said on the blog soon...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lizz Axnick

    I was so looking forward to reading this book and was even more excited to receive an ARC! However, I just didn't feel this book the same way I did with the first one in the series. However, I think I would continue to follow Aven's character indefinitely because she is just so amazing. The backstory is about a young woman who lives in a "theme park" called Stagecoach Pass in Arizona. Her family moved there for her last year in middle school and this year she is starting high school. What makes I was so looking forward to reading this book and was even more excited to receive an ARC! However, I just didn't feel this book the same way I did with the first one in the series. However, I think I would continue to follow Aven's character indefinitely because she is just so amazing. The backstory is about a young woman who lives in a "theme park" called Stagecoach Pass in Arizona. Her family moved there for her last year in middle school and this year she is starting high school. What makes Aven unique, however, is that she was born without arms. However, this does not stop her from accomplishing amazing teenage feats, like navigating high school and horseback riding. Aven struggles in this book with coping with the switch to high school and the idiot bullies that come along with it. Aven is a beautiful, strong and amazing young woman but she seems to forget that after a cruel prank is played on her and most of the book is her trying to get her mojo back. I read the first book, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus and I loved it. Aven is based on a real person the author read about or actually met, I forget which. I am fascinated with Aven's ability to adapt and what a rock star she is. I love her steadfast friends and her wonderful family characters as well. I would definitely read a third, fourth, fifth, etc. installment in this series!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Dusti Bowling gives readers more of the unsinkable Aven, her family, friends, and life at Stagecoach Pass in the follow-up to 2017's Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (which also happens to be one of my favorite middle grade books ever). Aven, a middle grader born with no arms; her best friends, Connor, a boy with Tourette's and Zion, a boy with weight problems, formed a tight-knit group of kids who could lean on each other, strengthen one another, and - because what are friends for? Dusti Bowling gives readers more of the unsinkable Aven, her family, friends, and life at Stagecoach Pass in the follow-up to 2017's Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (which also happens to be one of my favorite middle grade books ever). Aven, a middle grader born with no arms; her best friends, Connor, a boy with Tourette's and Zion, a boy with weight problems, formed a tight-knit group of kids who could lean on each other, strengthen one another, and - because what are friends for? - drive one another nuts. Insignificant Events is a brilliant novel with characters that become part of you the first time you meet them, so to learn that Dusti Bowling was giving us another book about Aven and Company was just the news myself, and so many other readers, needed. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus changes the game on Aven and her friends once more. Just in time to start high school, Connor's moved away and makes a new friend. A new female friend. Trying not to let jealousy get to her, she works on affecting indifference, but a cruel prank by some of of the Mean Boys (yep, they exist, and you know exactly who they are) in school devastates Aven, sending her into a PTSD-like spiral of anxiety and depression. Lando, Zion's older brother, seems interested in Aven, but she can't imagine - especially while continuing to be bullied by the creep that pranked her - that he'd be interested in her, which makes her more miserable. There's a subplot where Aven wonders about her father while trying to find Henri's - the ice cream man at Stagecoach Pass - family as his dementia gets worse, that put my emotions through the ringer. There's so much taking place in Momentous Events. Aven and her friends are struggling with adolescence and the things that come with it; namely, shifting friendships, crushes, and first relationships. Aging, death, and family - especially when you know there are family members "out there" somewhere - take up huge parts of Aven's thinking and feelings here. A new friend on the scene introduces Aven to fictional punk rock band Screaming Ferret, which gives her a new outlet for her feelings and makes me very happy; each chapter begins with a Screaming Ferret lyric, giving readers a heads-up as to what Aven's mood may be for that chapter. There are no downsides to Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus. Dusti Bowling gives readers - yet again - incredible characters with messy lives; lives that we recognize, challenges we can understand, sympathize with, and appreciate; and she does it with humor, care, and feeling.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emilia

    I didn't really like the cover and Aven was depressed for most of the book, so I didn't like it as much as the first book (one of my favorites!). Final verdict: 3.8 stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tonja Drecker

    Firstly, I did not read the first book in this series, although I have heard quite a bit about it. While reading the first book would have helped to know who the characters were, at times, and their backgrounds, I had absolutely no trouble sinking into this book. I recommend reading the first book but can't say there's a problem with picking up the second instead. Aven is entering high school, and after just getting settled into middle school, she's more than nervous at the idea of ha Firstly, I did not read the first book in this series, although I have heard quite a bit about it. While reading the first book would have helped to know who the characters were, at times, and their backgrounds, I had absolutely no trouble sinking into this book. I recommend reading the first book but can't say there's a problem with picking up the second instead. Aven is entering high school, and after just getting settled into middle school, she's more than nervous at the idea of having to adjust again. Especially since her best friend, Connor, is now on the other side of town, and the high school is over four times as big as middle school was. But she is 'blasé'. And ready to take it on...even though everyone stares at her...even though a cute guy suddenly seems interested in her...even though it might be tougher than she expected. There are several things I enjoyed about this book. Firstly, it's written with Aven going into high school, but still reads like a middle grade novel. While her age and the setting would normally throw this into the young adult category, it's exactly the kind of book older middle graders will appreciate. After all, they're nervous about high school and what awaits them...and this book hits exactly that. Secondly, Aven was born without arms, and while this obviously drives many aspects of the plot, the story itself doesn't really harbor on it. Of course, there are mentions of how she uses her toes to dial a phone and such, but it's not shoved in the reader's face. It makes this into a novel great for any kid who is uncomfortable about starting high school because they believe they'll stick-out or not fit in for some reason or another. And thirdly, the plot surrounds several aspects of Aven's life and gives her a very natural, rounded atmosphere. She has friends, she has family, and she has things outside of school which help balance her even when drama hits. She's a strong girl, who tackles insecurities and bullies in a realistic, healthy way. The pacing is very well done. It's an easy read and holds attention until the very last page without weighing down with Aven's issues. It was a little interesting how many characters have issues, though. Plus, I was a little surprised by the supposed bullying event, which spiraled her into depression. While gentle, the event was exactly that—gentle. Considering everything she goes through and must go through (reality of how harsh kids can be), it was not believable that something like that could influence her so easily. Still, it will fit for more sensitive readers at the middle grade level, and her tale of finding herself again and fighting through still resonates with the reader. Add her lovely insights, friendship which never ends, and a dash of humor, and it's a read to recommend. I received an ARC copy and enjoyed the story very much. So, I'm happy to leave my honest thoughts!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Doyon

    “Sometimes the friends you make aren’t the ones you expected. And sometimes the place you find yourself in isn’t the place you were hoping for. And sometimes, if you keep an open mind, you’ll find they’re so much better than what you imagined.” In Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus Dusti Bowling continues the story of Aven Green, a young woman who was born without both of her arms. This novel’s story focuses on her newest adventure: high school. As many of us remember from our own journ “Sometimes the friends you make aren’t the ones you expected. And sometimes the place you find yourself in isn’t the place you were hoping for. And sometimes, if you keep an open mind, you’ll find they’re so much better than what you imagined.” In Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus Dusti Bowling continues the story of Aven Green, a young woman who was born without both of her arms. This novel’s story focuses on her newest adventure: high school. As many of us remember from our own journeys, it does not begin smoothly and Aven begins to doubt herself, her friends and her dreams. Will she be able to navigate her way through this new life and be comfortable in her own skin again? Reading this novel brought me right back to the anxiety of those early high school days, where you are second-guessing everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world you’ve created. I think the author did a fantastic job of keeping Aven’s voice true throughout the novel, even through all the turmoil she encounters. The themes of friendship, loyalty and confidence are still present here. Her friend Connor does take a step back in this story, but Zion is still in Aven’s life, and new friends are introduced. I promise you will love them just as much. Highly recommend this story to students in grades 4 and up.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    So great to revisit the world of Stagecoach Pass and Aven’s circle of family and friends. I liked that the dynamics were shaken up significantly with Connor and Jo being disconnected in some way. I’m glad that Aven’s relationship with Zion was explored and strengthened. His anger with her because she didn’t listen to him (twice) was a bit heavy handed, but these are teenagers, after all. The tone of this book was very different from the first- Aven is sad, anxious and afraid for much of the stor So great to revisit the world of Stagecoach Pass and Aven’s circle of family and friends. I liked that the dynamics were shaken up significantly with Connor and Jo being disconnected in some way. I’m glad that Aven’s relationship with Zion was explored and strengthened. His anger with her because she didn’t listen to him (twice) was a bit heavy handed, but these are teenagers, after all. The tone of this book was very different from the first- Aven is sad, anxious and afraid for much of the story. Normally this is MY JAM, but it doesn’t work perfectly here. Either the author went too far, or quite possibly not far enough into self-destructive despair. But it’s the parents that made me crazy in this book. Yes, you want to teach your child independence, but they seemed irresponsible here. How could they not see her struggling, depressed, anxious, traumatized? And how could they let Henry flounder with no help? I mean, clearly the mom knew he was experiencing bouts of confusion, but the only one regularly checking up on him is a 14 year old? In any case, I loved the punk lyrics at the beginning of each chapter, and how her romantic feelings re Lando and Connor remain confusing and unresolved. Rang quite true. 4 stars, 6th-8th grade.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shaye Miller

    If you've read Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, then surely you've grown attached to Aven, Connor, and Zion. These characters shared the misfortune of being left out, bullied, and ignored for much of their lives before finding comfort in one another. Well in book #2, Zion is still fairly timid, struggling to make eye contact. Connor still has continual tics due to Tourette syndrome. And Aven is still armless, obviously. But things are pumped up a notch as the friends enter high scho If you've read Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, then surely you've grown attached to Aven, Connor, and Zion. These characters shared the misfortune of being left out, bullied, and ignored for much of their lives before finding comfort in one another. Well in book #2, Zion is still fairly timid, struggling to make eye contact. Connor still has continual tics due to Tourette syndrome. And Aven is still armless, obviously. But things are pumped up a notch as the friends enter high school with Connor going to a different school across town AND Aven attracting the attention of one of the most popular high school athletes. School aside, there are plenty of other happenings in Stagecoach Pass: their beloved llama, Spaghetti, appears to be very ill, Henry's memory seems to be worsening, Josephine is navigating her new life in an assisted living community, Aven is learning to jump a horse, and she suddenly has a desire to find her biological father. I LOVED THIS SECOND BOOK!!! I can't even express how happy I was to be reunited with these lovely characters. I adore Aven's quirky sense of humor and the way she faces and resolves conflict with her friends. I laughed and cried throughout the story, feeling all the feels. It's no surprise that book #1 still has a 4.34 Goodreads rating and book #2 already has a STARRED review from Kirkus. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it right now! For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie Reilley

    I am fortunate to be part of this book's launch team and received an ARC to read and review. Picking up shortly after the end of Insignificant Events, Aven is getting ready to begin a new chapter in her life...high school. With a new school comes change, of course. From 700 students to 3,000, and without Connor (who's moved across town and attends a different school), Aven and Zion work together to battle the beast known as high school. When Aven is challenged in ways she's never experienced bef I am fortunate to be part of this book's launch team and received an ARC to read and review. Picking up shortly after the end of Insignificant Events, Aven is getting ready to begin a new chapter in her life...high school. With a new school comes change, of course. From 700 students to 3,000, and without Connor (who's moved across town and attends a different school), Aven and Zion work together to battle the beast known as high school. When Aven is challenged in ways she's never experienced before, her voice and confidence become shaken. With the help of Zion, Connor, and a new cast of characters, Aven learns what it means to be true to who she is. Other things to love: each chapter opens with lyrics from author-created punk songs. I can see these becoming mantras for some readers. Comic-con and comic book references throughout, as well as another Aven mystery to solve. With themes of friendship, family, and truth to oneself, I highly recommend this sequel to all middle grade readers. Release date is scheduled for September 17, 2019. Be sure to preorder!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Whitt

    I am fortunate to be part of this book's launch team and received an ARC to read and review. The sequel of Insignificant Events brings Aven to high school. With a new school comes change and Aven's confidence is tested. After losing Connor (to a move), Aven and Zion, with Zion's older brother Lando, set out to make the most of this new school. Aven finds strength in people and places that she did not expect and works through the turmoil that high school and growing up can bring to anyone, even w I am fortunate to be part of this book's launch team and received an ARC to read and review. The sequel of Insignificant Events brings Aven to high school. With a new school comes change and Aven's confidence is tested. After losing Connor (to a move), Aven and Zion, with Zion's older brother Lando, set out to make the most of this new school. Aven finds strength in people and places that she did not expect and works through the turmoil that high school and growing up can bring to anyone, even with arms. Your heart will cringe and break with hers as she moves through typical adolescent struggles and root for her at her every step of the way. Aven's voice is strong throughout this story and it makes readers love her even more, leaving us wondering what will be next for Aven? College? Release date is scheduled for September 17, 2019. Be sure to preorder, you don't want to miss this one!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Aven continues to be a captivating leading lady. Bowling deftly communicates just how adept Aven has become at living life without arms in a world built for such appendages. Spaghetti, the llama, shares Aven's affections with Chili, the horse, and Fathead, the tarantula rescue. Connor has relocated to spend more time with his dad and is not as strongly featured as in the first book. I missed his friendship with Aven being such a prominent theme. Connor's geographical distance, however, does allo Aven continues to be a captivating leading lady. Bowling deftly communicates just how adept Aven has become at living life without arms in a world built for such appendages. Spaghetti, the llama, shares Aven's affections with Chili, the horse, and Fathead, the tarantula rescue. Connor has relocated to spend more time with his dad and is not as strongly featured as in the first book. I missed his friendship with Aven being such a prominent theme. Connor's geographical distance, however, does allow Zion to grow as a character since he and Aven start high school together. Their growing friendship allows the upcoming Comic Con to take prominence and we find Zion's family playing a strong role in "Momentous." The strongest story line centers around Aven's "Great Humiliation" and her decision to take action and move one -- definitely a highlight for me. If you like Bowling's other titles you will find this one is a strong addition to her list of accomplishments. Thank you to Sterling Children's and Edelweiss for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Clare Lund

    I absolutely ADORED this sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus! I received an ARC as a member of the book's launch team, but am not being compensated for my reviews. As Aven starts high school, she is faced with a new level of bullying she has never experienced before, causing her to lose her confidence. Through the help of Connor, Zion, and a new cast of friends, Aven learns a lot about what it means to be true to herself. I loved the references to comic books and pu I absolutely ADORED this sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus! I received an ARC as a member of the book's launch team, but am not being compensated for my reviews. As Aven starts high school, she is faced with a new level of bullying she has never experienced before, causing her to lose her confidence. Through the help of Connor, Zion, and a new cast of friends, Aven learns a lot about what it means to be true to herself. I loved the references to comic books and punk rock, and the subplot with Henry was so touching -- that last scene in the hospital caught me off guard and definitely choked me up. I highly recommend this sequel for ages 10 and up!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Reading in the Middle Grades (Stacey DeCotis)

    Aven is back with her wit and humor! As she starts high school with 3,000 kids her strength and confidence is tested. Connor has moved and won’t be part of her new experience. Zion warns her about a boy who is giving her attention. Henry is starting to lose his memory and Aven has to deal this all and more. Written in such a smart way with each chapter giving cool lyrics to punk bands, Dusti Bowling does it again to make this book unputdownable. Fans of Aven will laugh and cry as she navigates t Aven is back with her wit and humor! As she starts high school with 3,000 kids her strength and confidence is tested. Connor has moved and won’t be part of her new experience. Zion warns her about a boy who is giving her attention. Henry is starting to lose his memory and Aven has to deal this all and more. Written in such a smart way with each chapter giving cool lyrics to punk bands, Dusti Bowling does it again to make this book unputdownable. Fans of Aven will laugh and cry as she navigates the ups and downs of the start of high school. Come out September 2019!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    I was in love with Aven Green from the moment she gave her first crazy reason for not having arms. She is one of my favorite fictional characters and I couldn't wait for this sequel to arrive! Just as entertaining as "Insignificant Events," Aven is now navigating the pitfalls of high school. A safe read for any age - Dusti Bowling can tell a story that's entertaining at any age. Keep on writing!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    AVEN! Ya did it again. Took my heart and made me laugh and cry. Such rich characters! Who wouldn't want to spend more time with them??

  20. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Loved this as much as Insignificant! Aven is the best.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    I love Aven!!! So many beautiful lines hit home, but this one made me laugh out loud: "(My hair) looked like I traveled exclusively via rollercoaster."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    More about Aven! For fans of the first book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennisen

    So excited to have picked up an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from ALA Midwinter. Every bit as good as the first! I find Aven Green to be quite an inspiration, and I love her diverse interests. Thank you, Dusti Bowling, for this book! My students are already looking forward to its release!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Aven is now fourteen and is starting high school, something both exciting and terrifying. It's like starting all over again, with a bunch of students who don't know her. And after a boy pulls a mean trick on her, Aven's confidence is shattered, causing her to lash out at those who love her. I'm glad to see Aven back in another volume, but I don't think that this book is as strong as the first. I'm also not sure, as a librarian, what to do with Aven's stories as she gets older. The book is writte Aven is now fourteen and is starting high school, something both exciting and terrifying. It's like starting all over again, with a bunch of students who don't know her. And after a boy pulls a mean trick on her, Aven's confidence is shattered, causing her to lash out at those who love her. I'm glad to see Aven back in another volume, but I don't think that this book is as strong as the first. I'm also not sure, as a librarian, what to do with Aven's stories as she gets older. The book is written for middle grade, but typically, once the main character is a teen, the book gets placed in the young adult collection. It was nice to see some of the other characters get fleshed out a bit more and Bowling manages to juggle several storylines without overpacking the book. Review from galley.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Grover

    I’m sure adults and kids will relate to the theme of fitting in when you don’t quite fit. Aven Green’s newest challenges are navigating friends, fears, humiliation, loss and bullies in high school. And did I mention she has no arms. “It’s about what you believe, it’s about saying “I’m good the way I am, spitting in the face of the man.” All of us have at one time or another found ourselves in “A blazing dumpster of suck” . Aven shows us how to get back up and stay on the horse. I admire her. I c I’m sure adults and kids will relate to the theme of fitting in when you don’t quite fit. Aven Green’s newest challenges are navigating friends, fears, humiliation, loss and bullies in high school. And did I mention she has no arms. “It’s about what you believe, it’s about saying “I’m good the way I am, spitting in the face of the man.” All of us have at one time or another found ourselves in “A blazing dumpster of suck” . Aven shows us how to get back up and stay on the horse. I admire her. I can’t wait to share this book .

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Crouch

    Thank you to the author for sharing an ARC for review. First of all, you should know that you can read this book without reading the first (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus), but DO NOT! Do whatever you have to do to meet Aven in her first adventure, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Because just like Sandra Cisneros says in 'Eleven,' we are the sum of all of our days. You should meet Aven chronologically because in her first tale, you'll experience her tenacity and Thank you to the author for sharing an ARC for review. First of all, you should know that you can read this book without reading the first (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus), but DO NOT! Do whatever you have to do to meet Aven in her first adventure, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Because just like Sandra Cisneros says in 'Eleven,' we are the sum of all of our days. You should meet Aven chronologically because in her first tale, you'll experience her tenacity and effervescence. In Insignificant, Aven is a powerhouse who doesn't let much phase her. And she encounters some soul-searching stuff in Insignificant. But this review isn't about Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, it's about MOMENTOUS Events in the Life of a Cactus. What Momentous Event, you might ask. Well, HIGH SCHOOL. And BOYS. And, most breathtaking of all for my friend Aven, SELF-DOUBT. I fell in love with Aven and how little she cared about the feckless world around her. People look at her funny, ask her stupid questions about not having arms, and constantly stare. She still has a positive outlook on the world, and she isn't afraid to search to find her people. Small in number, but big in character, she finds quality people to support her. Unfortunately, one of those people has moved from her school, so Aven is beginning school with one friend to suffer through the humiliation that is being an outsider in what is supposed to be one's element. Aven doesn't care about being popular, but when she is targeted and humiliated, she finds herself down and out. Aven falls into despair and hopelessness. She pushes away the people who love her. She revels in her misery. I wondered if she'd come out of it. And therein lies the magic. To understand how truly difficult and soul-crushing high school can be, you must meet Aven early on. Because I absolutely have seen students who seem to be on top of the world during their middle school years fall down in high school. Experiences change people, and high school is a very transformative time. What I loved about Momentous was that Aven proves to be human: fallible and fragile. Shouldn't all children know that even the best can fall? And get back up? Because, after all the mess in the middle, Aven does get up. She does realize what she needs to realize. She finds strength within, and she learns to accept help and support. I love Aven even more than I did before, because now, instead of being a superhero, I see that she's a fragile superhero. Oxymoron, maybe, but I happen to know lots of fragile superheroes. People who, when things are easy and good, excel and work hard to be successful. But one small thing can also take these people down for a while, and they'll need to rest, rejuvenate, and reassess what's important to them. Aven is a testament to this process of falling down, staying down, but ultimately, getting back up, and I love her more for it. Highly recommend!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mollee

    For transparency purposes: I’m a member of the Cactus Launch Team, which afforded me an advanced copy of Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus ; I volunteered for this honor because of how much I loved Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. 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 For transparency purposes: I’m a member of the Cactus Launch Team, which afforded me an advanced copy of Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus ; I volunteered for this honor because of how much I loved Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. 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! Several quotable moments, but the one that sums the book up best for me is: “Sometimes the friends you make aren’t the ones you expected. And something the place you find yourself in isn’t the place you were hoping for. And sometimes, if you keep an open mind, you’ll find they’re so much better than you imagined.” - 275 Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus is a wonderful continuation of Aven’s story - it had me laughing aloud at some parts, just as I did in the first book, and had my heartstrings tugged several times, as well. Highly recommend adding this to any classroom or library, grades 4+.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edleweiss Plus Aven is back after Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and high school is a frightening prospect. Three thousand students, most of who won't understand that her lack of arms isn't something they don't need to mention to her. It's even worse that Connor has moved across town to live with his father, but at least she has Zion. Josephine is in a nursing home, and Henry is rapidly failing, but Trilby is still working at her parents' s E ARC provided by Edleweiss Plus Aven is back after Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, and high school is a frightening prospect. Three thousand students, most of who won't understand that her lack of arms isn't something they don't need to mention to her. It's even worse that Connor has moved across town to live with his father, but at least she has Zion. Josephine is in a nursing home, and Henry is rapidly failing, but Trilby is still working at her parents' smoothie shop at the wild west theme park, Stagecoach Pass, that Aven's parents run. Aven still plays guitar and is training to ride a horse and jump with it, but high school brings new challenges. One of them is Joshua, who is on the football team with Zion's brother Lando, and seems to be flirting with Aven. This is both exciting and frightening, and Aven is not alone in thinking "why would he be interested in me?" Zion thinks she's imagining things, and an unpleasant incident occurs that proves them both wrong and leaves Aven's self esteem in the gutter. She doesn't want to tell anyone, takes nearly a week off school, begs to be homeschooled like Trilby, but eventually goes back determined to make her mark on high school. It helps that Zion's family is going to Comic Con; Aven enthusiastically gets into it, even if her costume of Armless Tiger Man (who was armless, yes, but also a Nazi) is ill-conceived. Aven starts to investigate punk rock music at Trilby's suggestion, even though the two don't spend a lot of time together, even though Trilby and Zion are a bit interested in each other. As Henry's condition worsens, Aven tries to find out more about this past to see if he has family who can help him. Strengths: It was great to follow a character from middle school to high school. I wish there were a lot more books where this happened. My students want to read about older students, but they don't really want to read YA. This was perfect. I enjoyed the first book, and it was fun to catch up on all the small things in Aven's life, like her riding, Stagecoach Pass, friendship with Connor and Zion, etc. Of course, the brilliant parts of this book are the depictions-in-passing of Aven answering her phone with her toes and doing other small tasks most of us take for granted. While her lack of arms is certainly something major, this book isn't about that. It's about... life. The other fantastic scene was where Aven goes to Joshua's football coach and rats him out. The growing relationship with Lando is sweet. Weaknesses: Aven has a blog, and I'm pretty sure that very few high school freshman do that. Instagram, perhaps, a SnapChat streak, definitely, but blogging is a dying format! What I really think: The first book has done well in my library, so I will definitely purchase.

  29. 5 out of 5

    N.

    4.5/5 Aven's best friend Connor has moved out of town and now she has to face her move to high school with a single friend, Zion. Zion is overweight; Aven is armless. Moving to a new school with 3,000 students is intimidating for both of them. And, when both are bullied by a guy who has bullied Zion in the past, Aven doesn't take it well. Will she ever adjust to high school and make new friends? That first paragraph is a dramatic simplification. Aven lives at Stagecoach Pass, a Wester 4.5/5 Aven's best friend Connor has moved out of town and now she has to face her move to high school with a single friend, Zion. Zion is overweight; Aven is armless. Moving to a new school with 3,000 students is intimidating for both of them. And, when both are bullied by a guy who has bullied Zion in the past, Aven doesn't take it well. Will she ever adjust to high school and make new friends? That first paragraph is a dramatic simplification. Aven lives at Stagecoach Pass, a Western amusement park. She's adaptable and independent. She has challenges, being armless, but she has friends in the amusement park, friends from middle school, a great set of adoptive parents, and a good attitude. She plays guitar, is working on trying to learn to do a jump on her horse, Chili, and can do a surprising amount of things with her feet. She's really quite self-confident until the bully embarrasses her. But, it's enough to send her into a crisis and it will take effort and the help of the people who love her to get over the humiliation. Aven is a fantastic character. Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus is a follow-up book and I haven't read the first. I did have a little trouble figuring out characterization. Who was Spaghetti? It took me more than half the book to figure out he was a llama and about the same length of time to realize Joe and Josephine were the same person. Eventually, I figured out most everything I needed to know. I really need to get my mitts on the first book. I love the author's lighthearted writing style, the characterization, the positive message, and the fact that the main character is disabled but absolutely does not let her disability get in the way of living her life — and, yet, the author's realistic about the kind of staring and teasing that Aven experiences. Such a great book. I recommend reading the two books in order, but if you can't locate a copy of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (we have a crappy library, when it comes to kids' books, so I feel lucky to have read Momentous and doubtful that my library will carry Insignificant), no worries. You'll eventually figure it all out. I received a copy of Momentous Events from Sterling Children's Books for review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Stallard

    If you enjoyed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, you have probably been highly anticipating this sequel. When we rejoin Aven, she is on the cusp of starting ninth grade, and she is scared out of her mind. Her best friend Connor has moved across town and won't be beside Aven to help her navigate high school. Her llama Spaghetti is in declining health; Henry's memory is getting worse and worse, and Josephine is as grumpy as ever. When Aven attracts the attention of Joseph, a cute football pla If you enjoyed Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, you have probably been highly anticipating this sequel. When we rejoin Aven, she is on the cusp of starting ninth grade, and she is scared out of her mind. Her best friend Connor has moved across town and won't be beside Aven to help her navigate high school. Her llama Spaghetti is in declining health; Henry's memory is getting worse and worse, and Josephine is as grumpy as ever. When Aven attracts the attention of Joseph, a cute football player, her friend Zion warns her to stay away from him. Zion has been bullied by Joseph in the past and doesn't think it is possible for him to have changed; however, Aven always sees the good in people and believes in second chances. Despite Zion's warnings, Aven is crushing on Joseph. Sadly, Aven finds herself as the target of a mean prank by Joseph and his friends. Aven finds herself questioning everything she has ever believed. She no longer believes in second chances and that most people are good; but worst of all, she no longer believes in herself. This book definitely feels more like it is more appropriate for middle school than upper elementary; there isn't any bad language or questionable content, but it does feel pretty angsty. I'm not sure that my third or fourth graders will appreciate the stress of high school and first crushes, but I'm certain some of my fifth graders will relate. If you know a student who needs to care a little less about what others think, put this book in his or her hands. While adults and friends are trying to convince Aven that she is good enough and can do whatever she wants, self-doubt keeps creeping back in her head. Adolescents will certainly connect with Aven's struggles.

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