Monday, October 7, 2013

The Running Dream, Wendelin Van Draaen

The Running DreamMy life is over. Behind the morphine dreams is the nightmare of reality. A reality I can't face. 

"Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run? As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her. With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her."

The Running Girl is a moving and sweet story. It doesn't do anything particularly new or innovative, but it does appeal to the feels. It has interesting characters and a typical but effective plot. Jessica lives for running, and the loss of her leg practically destroys her. This is the story of her rebuilding, of her new discoveries. It was a heartwarming story, and I'm so glad I picked it up. The Running Dream is short and easy to get into, but it contains a lot of emotion. I read it very quickly, racing (pun intended) to get to the end of the book and see if Jessica made it. Although it's pretty obvious if she does, considering what kind of book The Running Dream is. It's definitely feel-good.

Still, The Running Dream is moving, and if not relatable, at least understandable to me. I'm not a runner, but I know people who are, and how much they love it. There are some pretty grim parts of the book though, such as when Jessica goes to get a "socket fitting" for her new leg. Still, overall given the subject matter, The Running Dream is a light and sweet book. It still hits home though, and it was pretty touching, capturing very well Jessica's passion for running. The Running Dream is quite a good read, I would say, even if it's not very original and strays from realism.

The Running Dream is a little short on conveying exactly how alien and what it feels like to be missing one leg; however, the author does a great job of conveying Jessica's sudden appreciation of two legs, and how she notices everyone's strong, sleek, beautiful legs. That part was really sad, because you know Jessica will never be like that again. There's also a lot of reality, because The Running Dream also addresses the insurance problems of Jessica's family; they don't have insurance, the guy who caused the accident doesn't have insurance, and no one else seems willing to pay for it. Plus, the special running fake leg costs around twenty thousand dollars, an amount that Jessica's friends probably aren't going to be able to raise, no matter how committed they are. Of course, this is where realism is put aside, and a lot of unlikely things happen.

The Running Dream is one of the books are that are really gripping, but kind of soap opera-ish. It has lots of drama, like My Sister's Keeper, although The Running Dream was much better. It was hard to put down, and I probably could have read it in one sitting if I had more time. It was published in 2011, and it's a pity I didn't hear about it then. As it is, I'm glad to have read it now.

The Running Dream is really fast, just like Jessica was, but there are some moving descriptions, especially of all the effort people on Jessica's track team go through to try and raise money for her special running leg. At least she's supported by a group of determined people. Still, they only raise $876.50 in their first event, which is a lot of money, but nowhere near the twenty thousand dollars required. Predictably enough, help comes from unexpected quarters.

To sum up my opinion of The Running Dream: I really enjoyed it, although it wasn't too original. Still, the writing is accessible and compelling, and I would definitely recommend The Running Dream to runners and non-runners alike. It's not a heartbreaking book or anything, and everything turns out great in the end, but it's a fun, light read which given that the book's about a girl whose lost her leg hardly seems likely. But it is.

332 pages.

Rating: ****

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