Review: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

I selected this book off of my “to read” list because it was about running. I’ve recently started an exercise routine, and I thought it might help motivate me to run if I was listening to a book about an amputee while I was running. I’m not really sure it worked, but I did really enjoy the book.

Van Draanen did a great job of putting the reader inside the head of a teenage in tragedy. Jessica’s voice was terrific, and her reaction to her situation seemed realistic. She is completely down on life, wishing she’d died because she thinks she’ll never run again. But when she’s given hope by seeing amputees running in videos her coach shows her, she turns around quickly.

Jessica’s best friend, Fiona, is amazing. It was refreshing to read a book about a teen becoming disabled where the best friend rallies behind her instead of deserting her. Fiona and Jessica’s coach get the whole track team on board to raise money for a running leg for Jessica. It’s an entirely positive view of teenagers that is rarely seen in realistic fiction.

The whole story is very inspirational. And when Jessica befriends Rosa and takes on another cause, it becomes even more uplifting. That Jessica is already concerned about helping someone else after her accident is such a fantastic element of the book.

Rating: 4 Stars

This review was originally published on Mom’s Radius.

The Running Dream
Wendelin Van Draanen
Young Adult Fiction
Listening Library
January 11, 2011

An award-winning and inspiring novel. When Jessica's dreams are shattered, she puts herself back together—and learns to dream bigger than ever before.

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

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