Home > Realism, Senior Fiction, Young Adult > The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. Pub. Alfred A Knopf, 2011.

High school student Jessica has just broken the record for 400m at an Invitation athletics meeting. She is on a high but fate deals her a crippling blow on the way home on the bus. A runaway truck hits her bus killing a friend and costing Jessica her lower right leg.

This novel in five parts tells of Jessica’s  agonies and fightback and struggle to run again with the help of an artificial limb.

But it is more than that, way more. It is story of great parents, great friends, great community and the best qualities that human beings can show. Inspiring. There are trying and desperate moments and of course the limitations and excessive legal shenanighans that beset the American health system.

Jessica is a fine role model and a picture of determination that any athlete will understand. She sets goals, listens to advice and works hard. The best part for me is Jessica’s relationship with a cerebral palsy girl, Rosa, who wants to be seen for herself rather than for her condition.

Van Draanen’s narrative style keeps the reader in the book. Short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters. You can pick it up and read for 10 minutes, but you won’t. It is compulsive reading.

This book could have wallowed in sentimentality, and there is a certain amount of it in the book. Wendelin Van Draanen has balanced this well and has written an inspiring novel for everyone especially athletes and disabled readers. An essential purchase for school libraries.

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