The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Sixteen year old high school junior Jessica, a track champion who loves running, wakes up in the hospital to learn her right leg has been amputated below the knee from a car accident. Even though the surgeon is optimistic, Jessica can’t believe she will ever walk, much less run, again, even with a prosthetic leg. The author has divided the book into track-related sections and short chapters, as Jessica narrates her odyssey from healing from the amputation in the hospital to learning to use crutches, going home, returning to school using a wheelchair, etc. One of the adjustments Jessica makes is sitting in the back of her math class at a table that accommodates her wheelchair, next to a younger student named Rosa. Jessica learns that Rosa is a math genius who is physically disabled with cerebral palsy. As they become friends, Rosa helps Jessica with math and inspires Jessica to set a goal of running again with a prosthetic. As her family, track team and town rally around Jessica, she takes on a mission of her own: to make disabled people visible for their abilities.
I found this book absorbing, with realistic characters and situations. As a former runner, I especially appreciated the running and race sequences as very truly to life. This book has been nominated in the Young Adult division of the California Young Reader Medal for 2013-14.
Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson