The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Imagine that running is your life. You live to run at track meets and excel at it. And then running is taken away and you aren’t quite sure who you are anymore. This is exactly what happens to 16-year-old Jessica after a tragic accident results in the amputation of one of her legs.

Though she’s told over and over again about the great technology of prosthetics, Jessica isn’t at all comforted knowing she’ll be able to walk again, when all she really wants to do is be able to run. Depressed and hurting, as she works to get used to her new prosthesis, she feels incredibly vulnerable and weak. She doesn’t know who she is anymore, but it’s certainly not the strong, fun girl she was before the accident.

As we read of Jessica’s journey, we go up and down the emotional rollercoaster with her, from sadness and mourning, to hope and determination. Van Draanen does an excellent job channeling how a person in this situation might react and feel, pouring the emotions out onto the page and allowing her reader to truly experience them as they’re happening.  The manner in which she works through her mental and physical challenges is realistic and inspiring.

Recommended for fans of realistic and contemporary fiction, sports fans, or those that just enjoy a great, inspirational story!


The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99, Ages 12 and up


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