Have you ever lost something that was important to you? It could have been a good luck charm, a valuable object, or maybe that you thought about but is not really real. Whatever it was, I trust you did not lose something as important to you as what 16-year-old Jessica Carlisle did in “The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen. Jessica is a runner, and she lost her leg.
Jessica, however, is not just any runner; she is the best in her region. While heading back from her track meet where she set the 400-meter dash record, a car smashed into the bus in which Jessica and her teammates were riding. Jessica lost her leg in the tragic accident.
The book covers Jessica’s heartbreak, her road to recovery and how some things are more important that setting records. The book is separated into five parts that correspond to different parts of her recovery. This makes the story so much more meaningful, as noted in supersummary.com: “The Running Dream” shows … attention to the unfairness and unexpectedness of life, but also how perseverance through those challenges can ultimately make someone a stronger, better human being.”
The highlights of this book include strong and moving quotes, such as when Jessica was feeling upset about her recovery when another girl had died in the accident:
“But I've never spoken to a grave before.
I don't know what to say.
I don't know how.
'I'm so sorry,' I choke out, but that's as far as I get before I start crying. I feel bad that she's gone. I feel overwhelmed. And I feel guilt.
Guilt that I've recovered.
Guilt that I'm happy.
Guilt that I ever thought she was the lucky one.”
Another highlight of the book is it holds so much emotion. As Jessica progresses through her stages of recovery, the people around her change their personalities to reflect Jessica’s feelings. When she is in the hospital and learning to walk, everyone acts gravely even when they weren’t around her. Also, when she learns her team is trying to buy her a running propestic leg, the track team throws a party and celebrates Jessica’s chance of running again.
This book is very inspirational because one can really feel how much Jessica has to go through in order to recover and how much her leg really means to her. Examples of this are when she leaves her house for the first time, or when she receives her walking leg, or when she runs on a prosthetic leg at the end of the book.
This is a book that a reader does not want to put down. The highly developed plot keeps the audience guessing throughout the story. It is emotional and passionate through dramatic quotes and big actions. It has the suspense that wants to make you to flip over onto the next page. Popular themes of love between friends, family, and teammates entice readers to keep turning the pages. I found the book extraordinary and would recommend it to anyone who is happy, sad, or in a familiar situation as Jessica. A reviewer on Ya Books Central effectively sums up the entire book: “It will leave you with a true sense of what really matters in life.