The Running Dream
by Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf Books for Young Readers, January 11, 2011
Be prepared to read this book in one sitting, because it is nearly impossible to put down. Jessica is an accomplished runner and has just logged her best time to date when a car accident causes her to have her leg amputated. After mourning the loss of a teammate and her own dreams, she slowly comes to terms with what she believes is the end of her running days. Through the changes she experiences, she opens her eyes to classmates who were previously invisible to her; she makes a new friend who is a math genius who happens to be in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. This story is moving, engaging, and believable. The author may not have intended the book to cause the reader to go through his or her own introspection, but, indeed, this is bound to happen.
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.