This is one of those books I’m really happy to blog about because I enjoyed it so much, and I think adults can feel confident handing it to the teens and preteens in their lives.
Author: Wendelin Van Draanen
Genre: contemporary realistic fiction
Age group: YA
Synopsis: High school junior Jessica has finally beat her rival in the 400-meter race when a tragic bus accident destroys her right leg. Her below-the-knee amputation leaves her running dreams crushed, and her life is turned inside out. The doctors say she’ll walk again once they can fit her with a prosthetic limb, but the pain and frustration of recovery makes Jessica wonder if her teammate who died in the accident didn’t end up better off than she did. Going back to school is equally painful. Her temporary wheelchair earns her a seat next to Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy that Jessica and her friends have overlooked. But things start to turn around when Jessica learns Rosa is a math genius and can help Jessica get caught up on all the work she’s missed. With the encouragement of old and new friends, Jessica’s dream to run once again begins to take shape.
As a high school cross country runner (and one-time marathon runner), I could really relate to Jessica’s desire to run. A year after I ran the marathon, I went through a period where I was too busy to get out and do the running I used to do, and ended up dreaming of running to the point where I’m pretty sure I was thrashing around my legs in bed!
This is a really sweet story about a girl who’s determined to recover and the myriad of people who are equally determined to help her achieve her goals. However, this story goes the extra mile (get it? the extra mile!) by adding in the character of Rosa, who teaches Jessica a thing or two about hope and friendship.
I highly recommend The Running Dream and will probably be buying this book for a niece or two in the not-too-distant future.