Reviews for Running Dream

Booklist Reviews 2011 January #1
Sixteen-year-old Jessica is the track team's star sprinter until tragedy strikes: the team van is struck, killing one runner and demolishing Jessica's right leg. The book begins with Jessica refusing to acknowledge the result: a stump. But she is slowly reintroduced to life, which involves being fitted for a prosthesis, returning to school, and dealing with the usual--tough teachers, mean girls, and one really hot, sensitive, supportive boy. It's a classic problem novel in a lot of ways; accordingly, Van Draanen inserts setbacks with narrative precision, the most affecting of which (surprisingly) is the insurance battle that Jessica's parents face. Overall, though, this is a tremendously upbeat book, with Jessica's family, friends, and community coming together (the track team raises funds to buy Jessica a $20,000 running leg). Even a subplot involving Jessica's friendship with the cerebral palsy-afflicted Rosa is not as treacly as it could have been. Van Draanen's extensive research into both running and amputees pays dividends--readers will truly feel what it's like to walk (or run) a mile (or 10) in Jessica's shoes. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Readers meet teen athlete Jessica in the hospital, beginning the agonizing recovery from a bus crash in which she lost her leg. Very short chapters narrated in the first person show Jessica's gradual adjustment and healing day by day. Van Draanen delivers an abundance of interesting medical detail and emotional authenticity in this thoroughly researched, accessible, and inspirational novel. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #2
Van Draanen, author of the popular Sammy Keyes and Shredderman series, here writes a thoroughly researched realistic novel about a teen athlete who suddenly finds her life irrevocably changed by an accident. Readers meet Jessica in the hospital, beginning the agonizing recovery from a bus crash in which she lost her leg. Doctors keep telling Jessica how lucky she is to have lost her leg below the knee, but of course she does not feel lucky at all. Very short chapters narrated in the first person show Jessica's gradual adjustment and healing day by day, the structure underlining one of the book's central themes -- that everything difficult in life is accomplished one moment at a time. Since it is clear from the beginning that Jessica is a resilient young woman with a lot of support, the story doesn't have much dramatic tension, but Van Draanen delivers an abundance of interesting medical detail and emotional authenticity in this accessible and inspirational novel. susan dove lempke Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 December #2

A girl learns to run again in this inspirational story of recovery from a terrible accident and from insensitivity. Sixteen-year-old Jessica lives to run. She's a track star, but she loses her leg when an uninsured driver hits her school bus. The tale follows Jessica's initial despair and growing confidence as she struggles to cope with her disability and her father works to pay medical bills. At last the community rallies round her with a fund drive to buy her a prosthetic running leg. Meanwhile, Jessica makes friends with Rosa, a bright girl with cerebral palsy whom she had never noticed before. She decides to help Rosa as her friends have helped her, but Jessica's decision to push the wheelchair-bound girl through a 10-mile race might be too ambitious. Despite the story's focus on Jessica's emotional rollercoaster ride, Pollyanna would feel right at home there. Nevertheless, the pace of Van Draanen's prose matches Jessica's at her swiftest. Readers will zoom through the book just as Jessica blazes around the track. A lively and lovely story. (Fiction. 12 & up)


Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

When track star Jessica loses her leg in a school bus accident, she is devastated that she will never run again. After weaning herself off painkillers (upon which she's become dependent) and learning to walk with crutches, she returns to school at the urging of her supportive best friend. When her track coach shows her videos of amputees running on prostheses, she's riveted at the thought of reclaiming her passion--if, that is, her team can raise the ,000 needed to buy the leg. A tender subplot about Jessica's friendship with a girl with cerebral palsy seems scripted to underscore the message about seeing beyond disabilities ("Don't sum up the person based on what you see, or what you don't understand; get to know them," Jessica says). But Van Draanen sensitively conveys Jessica's struggles, from getting into the shower to her fear that no guys will be attracted to her. Jessica's gradual acceptance of her new life's limitations and her discovery of its unanticipated gifts should satisfy readers, who will root for her as she learns to run again. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 February

Gr 7 Up--Jessica has run her personal best at a track meet--then there's a tragic bus accident and the high school junior loses her leg as well as her future dreams. From waking up in the hospital and coping with the trauma, to her return home, then school, she tries to grab her life back. On one level the story offers inspiration to those dealing with physical changes in their own lives and the stages of recovery, fight, survival, and victory as Jessica reaches deep to push past her wall of self-pity and loathing, and moves beyond the "finish line." On a deeper level, there is her blind discrimination toward a fellow classmate who has cerebral palsy. Rosa is hard to understand and easy to ignore. She is anchored to a wheelchair. Jessica, encumbered by her crutches and her tender "stump," is seated in the back of the class, out of the way, next to Rosa. She learns that the girl is smart, wise, and friendly. They pass notes and share lunch. Rosa writes, "I wish people would see me and not my condition." When Jessica is running again--on a specially engineered prosthesis--she challenges herself to help her friend be seen. How Jessica orchestrates putting Rosa in the forefront of a community race and pushing her wheelchair across a finish line is a study in faith and determination. Readers will cheer for Jessica's recovery and be reminded to recognize people for their strengths and not overlook them because of their disabilities.--Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

[Page 121]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2011 February
Running is Jessica's life.  A talented track star with plenty of potential, she was hoping for a sports scholarship to college but when the team's bus collides with a car, Jessica's running career is over.  Her right leg, shattered beyond repair, is amputated below the knee.  Adjustment to life without her leg is difficult, and her nightly dreams about running are bitter reminders about what she has lost. Unable to walk, much less run, Jessica returns to school feeling hopeless and that her life is without meaning.  While small victories and new friendships help take the edge off her frustrations, it is not until she sees YouTube videos of amputee athletes competing professionally that Jessica truly believes she might be able to run again Readers seeking a gentle inspirational story about a girl overcoming adversity will not be disappointed. Jessica's leg heals quickly and her emotional journey is one of gratitude and positive thinking rather than depression and self pity. Her narrative of her life as an amputee, especially the details of getting her prosthesis, are frank and fascinating. Her emerging friendship with Rosa, a student with Cerebral Palsy who uses a wheelchair, is a convenient device for bringing awareness to the invisibility of the disabled, but it fits with the upbeat tone of the book. Although the characters are slightly bland and there are few surprises here, Van Draanen has created an engaging story about friendship and inner strength that teaches as it inspires.-- Summer Hayes PLB 3Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.