Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Running Dream

By Wendelin Van Draanen
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Sixteen year old Jessica is a star runner on the track team.  Then the unthinkable happens--an accident with their bus on the way home from a meet causes the death of one teammate and Jessica loses a leg.  When running is the core of who you are, how do you even think about going on?  But go on, she must.  Jessica works her way through the many stages of recovery, and very very slowly, as she finally gets a prosthetic leg, starts to feel a tad bit better about herself.  Then her coach shows her a video of people actually competing with special prosthetic legs.  Jessica is excited until she realizes the price tag of such a leg is $20,000.  How can she focus on that when her own family is struggling to pay the medical bills?  But each time Jessica wants to despair, she finds another reason to hope, especially when a new friend in the form of Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy enters the scene.  Readers will be moved by Jessica's struggles and may even shed a tear or two at the end of the book.  Fans may want to read a similar comeback story in Izzy Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt.  Good stuff, striking all the right notes.