Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.
With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.
I ran competitively for seven years of my life, and still run on occasion, so young adult novels about runners feel like they were written specifically with me in mind. I’m really glad that my book club gave me the opportunity to read this book as it’s been chilling on my shelves for a while. It sounds like the weirdest thing to say about a book where the main character is an amputee, but The Running Dream made me all kinds of happy.
The Running Dream is one of the most readable books I’ve read in 2012. The chapters are incredibly short and packed with emotion, but usually not melodramatic. At times it felt a little bit predictable, but I liked what was happening as the plot progressed, so I didn’t mind.
There are a lot of complaints a reader can make about The Running Dream, particularly that Van Draanen tried to tack too many issues and themes. Jessica’s friend Rosa has cerebral palsy and there’s a bit of romance in the novel. I actually felt that both of these things were tied into the story in a way that didn’t feel contrived. Plus, I was so happy to be reading a book about running that I just didn’t mind other minor issues with the story.
The Running Dream is a book that began as a roller coaster ride and left me in a great mood. My middle school aged self would have loved this book even more than my adult self. Even if it’s not a perfect book, The Running Dream is a great book for readers who are just stating to read YA and want a great novel about sports.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.