I've written about my daughter many times before. She's about to complete her 4th limb lengthening surgery and rehabilitation. She has a pretty severe discrepancy - despite the 4 lengthenings, she still wears a 4 inch shoe lift.
You can't hide a 4 inch lift. It's noticeable. She's used to it. We're used to it. Strangers are not used to it. We're used to the stares. The points. The questioning looks. The sympathetic looks. Most are pretty innocent. She's gotten really good at telling people, especially kids, why she wears it. We've had some bad experiences with it. Teenagers who laugh and point at it (Mama Bear and Teacher Mom came out when that happened....). We've had adults make some ridiculous comments. They happen.
My daughter has been at the same school since kindergarten. She's in middle school right now and so far, her classmates have been great. They have seen her go through three of the four lengthenings and a major ankle reconstruction. My daughter feels comfortable and confident at her school. I'm grateful for that because that's not always the experience kids who have something different about them have. She has two more years of middle school left, so I guess we'll see what happens.
What I'm most concerned about it high school. She'll be going into a HUGE high school with very few of her K-8 classmates. That's the way school boundaries work. I'm a little nervous - what will the high school kids say about her lift? I've heard middle school is worse, but I remember high school... it was worse than middle school, for me. My daughter is a competitive swimmer and high school girls swimming season starts right away in the fall. I'm hoping she'll have very supportive teammates that will make the transition easier for her.
Long story to set up my review of a book, right? But I needed to write these things so you know how important books like these are.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
by Dusti Bowling
published by Sterling Children's Books
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 quick thoughts:
I know, I've already rambled a lot. But when I read a book like this, I think how important it is to be put in the hands of every reader. Because I know the more kids know about disabilities like this - physical ones, mental ones - maybe, they will have the understanding, the compassion that is needed in our world. Because last I checked, every human is born with feelings. Nothing is accomplished by bringing someone down. But I see it everyday. I see it when our president feels like it's ok to mock someone who looks and sounds different than others. And that's not ok. But it's books like this that can maybe help. But they can only help if we get them in the hands of readers and talk to them about it. This book is a needed book. I hope you find copies on September 5th for your readers.