Review: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood


Sarah Haywood


In this charming and poignant debut, one woman’s unconventional journey to finding love means learning to embrace the unexpected.

For Susan Green, messy emotions don’t fit into the equation of her perfectly ordered life. She has a flat that is ideal for one, a job that suits her passion for logic, and an “interpersonal arrangement” that provides cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.

Enter Rob, the dubious but well-meaning friend of her indolent brother. As Susan’s due date draws near and her dismantled world falls further into a tailspin, Susan finds an unlikely ally in Rob. She might have a chance at finding real love and learning to love herself, if only she can figure out how to let go.


The Cactus didn’t hit the spot for me. I picked this book up because it was Reese Witherspoon’s June book club read and I had watched her IG stories about how funny this book is and how much she loved it.

My reaction wasn’t quite the same. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it funny. I suppose what one person finds funny another person doesn’t. I had a hard time wrapping my head around a woman who was so unwilling to accept help because she’s afraid it’ll make her look weak.

Susan finds herself pregnant at the age of 45 from a guy who she has an agreed upon relationship that’s solely based around no strings attached. It was more like a business transaction. Plus, his involvement with the upcoming baby will be one of the scheduled visits.

Susan wasn’t a likable character for me. Her fiercely independent attitude became annoying to read. The constant turning away help for fear of owing anyone was off-putting. In opposition was her brother who was very reliant on others. Even into adulthood, their sibling rivalry was still present.

Their mother had died and left a will that Susan had no knowledge of. The shock of the will and why her mother was allowing Susan’s brother to stay in the family home for as long he needed had made Susan contest the will. There’s some mystery around why their mother had made that decision. The whole situation was so odd that I figured out early on why her mother made that choice. I spent the rest of the book waiting for Susan to piece that together.

Overall, I didn’t mind listening to the book because the narrator had a pleasant voice. I buddy read this one with Kara and that helped push me forward. Plus, I wanted to see why Reese Witherspoon picked this book and found it so funny.

THE CACTUS is a standalone. It’s my first book by this author. If you’re looking for a woman later in life getting pregnant and struggling to keep her independence than this book might be what you’re looking for.


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