Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

What would you do if the you lost the one thing that mattered most?

Sixteen-year-old Jessica is a runner. She loves to run. She loves being part of her high school track team. And then one terrible day, as the team returns from an away track meet, a truck hits their school bus. One teammate dies. Jessica survives but her lower leg does not.

This book is an unflinching and deeply realistic portrait of a very determined girl. The reader follows Jessica's journey from her hospital bed, to physical therapy, to coming home and then back to school. Everyone has to re-adjust - her parents, her sister, her friends, her teachers, the other kids at school that she really doesn't know, and her coach who feels responsible but wants to help. Jessica has to learn to care for her leg and how to adapt to her artificial one.

Jessica is not some superhuman - she gets angry and depressed and embarrassed - but she's not a quitter. Her competitive spirit eventually keeps her going. Along the way she learns a lot about herself, her true friends, and some people she didn't know well. And she finds a way to back to her dream of running like the wind.

The Running Dream is an excellent and inspirational book. You will meet characters who seem very real. The problems they face are real as well - no medical insurance, lawsuits, and the expense of a good prosthesis or artificial leg. Along the way you may shed a tear or two, but I promise you, the last tears will be tears of joy.