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Aven was born without arms and adopted by a family who is about to move to a new town in Arizona. While her parents are busy trying to run a wild west theme park, Aven is trying to make new friends in a school where she isn’t Aven first – she’s Different. Aven displays a lot of confidence throughout the book and befriends a boy with Tourette’s Syndrome, and a lot of the book shows how these characters have to prepare for and respond to others who aren’t sure how to handle their differences when they are interacting in public. Additionally, Aven discovers a mystery within the theme park when she’s looking through some old papers, but the solution may be even wilder than the tall tales Aven makes up to explain her armless status to inquisitive strangers.
Although a number of the characters are dealing with some challenges and sad events from the past, this is a surprisingly upbeat, lighthearted story. It might almost stretch believability that Aven is generally so positive, but it certainly also makes her likeable and it’s a relief to read a story that is happy and encourages readers of all sorts to step out of their comfort zones and ignore whatever might be holding them back. Aven is a musician (guitar player) and blogs about her experiences, and the Old West theme park setting is a distinctive twist to most books for this age range.
"As Connor, Zion, and I walked together down the sidewalk, I heard someone do that coughing thing where they sneak a word into the cough, but they're not actually being very sneaky about it at all.
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