Sunday, May 8, 2011

Review of The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

runningIt’s hard to find any word other than inspirational to describe Van Draanen’s book about a 16-year-old runner whose leg has to be amputated after her track team’s bus is involved in a terrible accident.  Jessica goes through all the stages you would expect a teen (or anyone else) to go through, but the author moves the story along, focusing just the right amount on the difficulties she faces.  Her parents are just as devastated as she is, but they manage to hide from Jessica the financial trouble they are in because of the school’s attempt to deflect responsibility. After Jessica goes back to school, her track coach shows her YouTube videos of runners with prosthetic legs, and she begins to think that maybe she can run again after all.  The cost is prohibitive, but the team is determined to raise the money, and even convinces Jessica to let herself be photographed in shorts, showing her temporary prosthesis, which looks like a pipe.  There’s a side story of Jessica becoming friends with a girl in her math class who has cerebral palsy  Jessica has always looked right through her before, but now that she has to share her table in the back of the room, realizes that she is a smart, funny math genius.  Like everything else in the book, this could come off as cliched, but Van Draanen pulls it off.  This is a great story of how someone’s life can go on after a terrible tragedy, and in fact can be even better than before.  Review by Stacy Church