Book Review: Drowning Cactus by: Carrie Russell

Rating: 3/5

Publisher: Musa Publishing

Publication Date: July 26, 2013

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Some people find inspiration in the wilderness. Others find themselves hopelessly lost.

“With Drowning Cactus, Carrie Russell takes the reader on an exhilarating ride across the American landscape and into a brilliant quagmire of human obsession and desire. This is a dangerous, smart, and stunning debut.” - Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth

"Carrie Russell knows that serious stuff can be funny--even Saving the Earth." - Heather Lockman, author of The Indian Shirt Story

When his botched cactus theft is mistaken for an eco-protest, Gordon Burstein is thrust into the national spotlight and expected to speak for the land he loves. He panics and runs, beginning a journey of self-discovery that takes him from spring break in Mexico, across the Sonora, all the way to Thoreau’s Walden Pond.

Press and fans scramble to track him down, but no one is more determined than Mora Sullivan, a disgraced environmentalist who has fallen hard for Gordon. She treks into the desert, determined to find inspiration and love.

Gordon and Mora must survive the wilderness, evade the law, and confront the many lies they’ve told the world and each other—all before they attempt to rescue a truckload of cacti from drowning in a New England swamp.

Review: Gordon Burstein hasn’t done much with his life. When he is “helping” an artist by finding cacti she can use in her work, he’s thought to be an eco-warrior bringing to light the plight of the desert and its dependent species. Working at a nursery for his community service sentence, he starts working with a woman in Massachusetts, Mora Sullivan. Fired from the group she helped found and disgraced in many ways, she needs to find a new project and a cactus garden is her big plan. Both Mora and Gordon are looking for something more – something outside themselves to help heal their wounds and grow into who they’re meant to be. Two personal journeys leading to self-discovery intertwine in strange and wondrous ways.

DROWNING CACTUS features Gordon and Mora, who are two lost souls trying to find a way back to their true selves. Deeply flawed and guilty of making some very poor choices in their lives, they both need to get away from what is dragging them down. DROWNING CACTUS also educates readers on some very serious social and legal issues, such as immigration, conservation, and the environment. The characters were very different, even the secondary characters were well-developed, and readers will see through both Mora and Gordon’s eyes, as the perspectives changed throughout the story. DROWNING CACTUS is humorous, dramatic, and a poignant tale.

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