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Book Review: The Cactus

Well, another week, another book review! Fair warning, there will not be a book review next week (I'll be on vacation, and not bringing my laptop) but there will be two the following week! So, stay tuned for those!

And stay tuned for some posts from my first ever trip to Mexico!!!

But, before all that, if you need a refresher about my book reviews, look here!

I was very excited to read this week's book (It was Reese's Book Club's pick of the month), and am sorry to say I was more than a little disappointed with it. But more on that later. So, check out my review of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The Cactus begins with Susan Green, a pragmatic, rather frigid woman, suffering from morning sickness. This is her first pregnancy, at age 45. Soon. Susan learns of her mother's passing, and travels to her family home for the funeral. Her immature, direction-less brother, Edward, has handle the funeral arrangements, inappropriately

hosting the reception at a local pub.

Susan leaves, to await the news of her mom's will, expecting money to help with her new baby.

Learning that Edward was given the house, she soon seeks legal action, saying her coerced their mom into leaving the house to him.

Susan tells the father of her child about the baby, and the pair decide to pragmatically co-parent after establishing a thorough set of ground rules.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

While cleaning out their mother's house, Susan and Edward's friend, Rob, begin a tentative friendship. Susan also recollects how her mother loved Edward best, and how their father's drinking impacted their childhood, leaning to Susan being the way she is.

As her pregnancy progresses, Susan looks at her mom's medical records and sees she had dementia, the perfect evidence she needed to contest the will.

But, while looking for more evidence, Susan discovers the truth about her parentage; she is adopted.

Susan soon calls a meeting about the will, relinquishing her contest of the will. Her brother Edward reveals that he was always planning on selling the house. As the meeting ends, Susan goes into labor. Edward waits with her at the hospital until Rob arrives. She soon welcomes a daughter, Nell, via c-section. Her and Rob agree to live together and raise Nell together.

I really wanted to like this book. I've loved all the other Reese's Bookclub picks, and so expected this one to be good like all the others. The only good part of this book was when Susan found out she was adopted. It was a twist I didn't expect in an otherwise very predictable book.

Susan was hugely dislikeable. I really tried to like her, but she has no redeeming qualities. I kept waiting to like her, and I never did. She is too cold, and calculating, to be an enjoyable character. She has no growth as a character across the novel. I also found her relationship with Rob predictable, and unrealistic. There is no way a practical woman, like Susan, would move in with Rob before even going a date. It made no sense for her character to agree.

I also found the style bland. There was no exciting writing in the novel. Her style was basically non-existent. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt here; it is her debut novel, so stylistically her next book might be better. But, so far, her style is nothing to write home about.

The dialogue was also painful to read. No one talks like how Haywood wrote her dialogue. The unbelievable dialogue was actually jarring at some points, taking me out of the novel because I had to wonder why Haywood thought that was an acceptable sentence. It was rough to read at some times.

I also found the plot wildly predictable. Like I said, the only surprise was Susan being adopted. I didn't see that coming, but the rest of the novel played out like every other quasi-romance novel. The relationship with Rob and Susan never developed enough for this to be a true romance, which the novel was billed as. There was no relationship between them, before they made the decision to move in together and raise Nell together. It was almost laughable unbelievable.

Sadly, I really wanted to like this novel, and was disappointed on every single front. Hopefully, Haywood grows as a writer before her next novel. All in all, I have to give The Cactus by Sarah Haywood a 1 out of 5.

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