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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Running Dream

The Running Dream by Wenderlin Van Drannen

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

The Running Dream is less about the end and more about the journey to the end. Only through a great change in her life does Jessica realize something. Her story affects more than just her and her family, but the entire community.
Jessica has always been running for as long as she’s remembered. She had just set a new record when her school bus carrying her team has an accident. A freshman named Lucy died, but Jessica wishes she was dead. The accident took away her right leg; she is now a below-the-knee amputee. Her dreams of running ran straight out the door leaving Jessica behind.
The Running Dream is a heart-breaking novel that left me teary eyed before I reached the halfway point. As a novel that focuses on a drastic change in a life, it is amazing. On a technical scale and how much research the author poured into the novel, it shows. The Running Dream is an all-around winner.

Jessica is a fierce competitor but that doesn’t stop her from being a good friend, part of the team, and caring about others. The accident took more than a limb as Jessica deals with depression and her family trying to pay medical bills as fingers point the blame to another. The frustration of being unable to get up the stairs, across the room, and even showering is palpable. Jessica’s moods constantly drive up and down from optimism to depression is understandable as each new bump in the road its ups and downs. Despite her mood swings I found Jessica likeable, relatable, and grounded to the situation.

What helped Jessica are her family members, friends, and newfound friends. They push her to become a better person and are openly accepting of her new condition. They joke and treat her the same as she were before the accident. Her new life forces her to sit in the back of the class with Rosa, a freshman math genius who has cerebral palsy who’s been stuck in a wheelhouse for her entire life. Rosa is an upbeat person and has only dreamed on running.

The romantic aspect on the novel was definitely lackluster. As a character, he’s nice and respectable. He and Jessica are sweet together, but the relationship is a side-side story. There’s no ommpf or pow factor.

P.S. Who was the anonymous donator?

Cover B
I like it because it's a blank slate and something different from the YA covers I've been seeing.
Source: unsolicited review copy from Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published: 11 January 2011


  1. Sounds so good and I love the simplicity of that cover.

  2. I want to read this book so much! I run and any book that features the MC running always interests me.

    I'm glad you liked it!

  3. I thought this book looked really great, clad you liked it!
    I love the cover, how simple it is.
    Please if you have time, check out my blog?
    BTW, I followed :)

  4. I've decided that I need to read this one. Every once in a while I need a book that makes me cry and this one sounds like it fits the bill. It also sounds very uplifting and realistic. Love stories tend to overpower everything in YA books, so it will be nice to read something a little different.

    Great review!

  5. I think that the anoymus donor was rosa!!!

  6. @nelsone--it's strongly hinted, but they don't clearly say it.

  7. totally agree! this book was fabulous...and i was glad that the romance was so sidelined. it would take away from her story of recovery. think the donor was the math teacher.