Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review of the Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Van Draanen, Wendelin.  The Running Dream. Knopf, 2011.

On the very first page, the reader discovers that Jessica, a high school junior, is in the hospital after a horrific car accident that killed a classmate and wounded Jessica so grievously that her leg had to be amputated below the knee.

Talk about a solid punch to the solar plexus!  And Jessica is just as anguished as you'd imagine.  Maybe more - turns out this is a girl who loves to run, who was a star on her track team.  Oof - a double punch.

But if you're worried that this book is a pity party of regrets and angst, relax.  Jessica is a can-do girl who is determined to get walking - and even running - again.  She doesn't waste much time on moaning or navel-gazing or being terrified that no guy will ever like her.  No, Jessica is a jock in the best sense of the word.  She is focused and uncomplicated, a person who keeps her eye on the prize.

And this makes The Running Dream a breeze and joy to read.  Sure, it's fairly predictable - there are no surprises.  Will Jessica walk again, using a prosthetic leg?  Will she run again, and super-fast?  Will she enter a race pushing her new friend, wheelchair-bound CP-sufferer Rosa, in an emotional 10-mile race?  Yes, yes, and yes.  And thank goodness!  It couldn't happen to a better person.

Recommended for both girls and boys ages 11 to 16.

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