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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*The Running Dream* by Wendelin Van Draanen- young adult book review
Also by Wendelin Van Draanen:

Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City

Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack


Confessions of a Serial Kisser


Shredderman 1: Secret Identity

Shredderman 2: Attack of the Tagger
The Running Dream
by Wendelin Van Draanen
Ages 11-15 352 pages Knopf January 2011 Hardcover    

A thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking novel, The Running Dream is the story of 16-year-old Jessica, a runner and a leader on her track team who has just set a league record.

Her whole life is moving forward with the fast pace of her running, until a terrible bus accident: one teammate dies and Jessica’s leg is crushed and must be amputated below the knee. This severe trauma changes everything for Jessica; the focus of her life, running, is gone. Despite a positive physical recovery, she is initially depressed and withdrawn.

Eventually, an encounter with her 13-year-old sister jolts her into beginning to accept her new reality, and Jessica returns to school with the support of her devoted best friend and track coach. Each day she must adjust to her handicap.

Sitting in the back of math class, Jessica meets another girl in a wheelchair, Rosa, who has cerebral palsy. Rosa helps Jessica catch up on the work she has missed. Before now, Jessica paid no attention to Rosa, and other handicapped people in her school – now she is beginning to look beyond the handicaps to the individual.

Behind the scenes, Jessica’s family is struggling financially with her bills. The driver of the car who hit the bus was uninsured, and the responsibility for the bills is unclear. Her parents are stressed but try to shield Jessica from the problems.

Meanwhile, the track coach initiates a major fundraiser intended to buy a special prosthesis which will allow Jessica to run again. The prospect of running again further boosts Jessica’s moral as she goes through the difficult process of rehabilitation and seeing her own life and the life of others in a whole new light.

The Running Dream is an absolute pleasure to read. Jessica’s first-person narration comes straight from the heart, revealing both her negative and positive thoughts. You feel as if you are right beside her through everything that happens, understanding her decisions, realizing the need to change, yet struggling with all the obstacles.

Van Draanen inserts a bit of a romance, just enough to keep the reader hoping for more, but wondering what her love interests true motives may be. Girls who run will love this book; girls who don’t will, too, and may find themselves wanting to start running themselves. Highly Recommended.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Kristine Wildner/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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