The Running Dream – Wendelin Van Draanen

8354134The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: January 11th, 2011
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 11+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Disability, Sports, Realistic Fiction

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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.


What an emotional and hopeful journey.

Jessica is a born runner. Unfortunately, she lost a leg in a tragic car accident. Fortunately, she—unlike her classmate—didn’t die, but her passion (running) did. Or so she thinks.

Luckily, her case isn’t hopeless. She will be able to walk again, with the right prosthetic limb. Her whole track team is raising money to help her—to get her back on her feet.

Jessica is very lucky. I’m sure not every person who was in a car accident and survived has the same opportunities Jessica has, but this is a realistic story nonetheless.

Furthermore, it’s not only about this amazing runner getting back up after falling so hard. It’s also about raising awareness about disabled people wanting to be treated normally. Two legs is the default, because so many people have them. If everyone were in wheelchairs, wheelchairs would be the default. Someone’s disability shouldn’t be what defines them.

The story progresses masterfully well. It’s fast-paced, but not fast in terms of story. Jessica gradually learns to cope with her situation with the support of her friends and family. I was happy that she had such an overwhelming amount of love in her life. Everyone deserves that.

This is so different from FLIPPED. If I didn’t know the two were written by the same author, I never would have guessed. I liked it much better also. It’s not fluffy or romantic, but it’s truthful and inspiring.


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One thought on “The Running Dream – Wendelin Van Draanen

  1. I read this book a couple years ago and was blown away by how good it was! Even now as I think about disabilities and breaking stigmas I think of this book. not only was it a perfect mixture of hope, sweetness, and heartbreak, but it raised awareness and was inspiring. Great great review!!


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