The Cactus is the story of Susan Green – a bureaucrat in her mid-40s who has no time (or patience) for people and the many feelings and failings they come with. As a result, she is a single woman living in London with no friends, and limited contact with her family, save her aged mother. Her love for cacti is a perfect metaphor for what she herself is – prickly and harsh on the outside, soft and human on the inside.
Susan’s story begins when her well-scheduled train of a life is derailed by two huge changes – mother passes away and she discovers she is pregnant.
The book follows Susan as she juggles impending parenthood, coming to terms with the loss of a parent, estrangement from a sibling, and the possibility of allowing love into her life. We see the scars that growing up with an alcoholic father and a biased and distracted mother can have on a child. New revelations about this already disturbed childhood of hers come to light and leave her questioning everything.
Read the book for a healthy dose of empathy, especially for the prickly ones out there.