Imagine running is your life. You live to run at track meets and are great 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 again. 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. I was really impressed with the amount of inspiration one could get out of Jessica's story and how much like a memoir it read.
Even with the almost predictable inclusion of another teen with a disability that inspires Jessica to push to run again, I really enjoyed the writing and the flow of the book. The manner in which she works through her mental and physical challenges is realistic and inspiring.
The Running Dream
Wendelin Van Draanen