Beginning with “Finish Line,” and ending with “Starting Line,” this is beautiful book resonates with hope, courage, kindness and triumph. Well-deserving of the Schneider Family Book Award, its difficult subject matter is handled with the perfect blend of humor and sensitivity. The story is about 16-year-old Jessica whose life, and identity, revolves around running – until a catastrophic accident causes her to lose a leg. Told in five parts, we journey with her as she copes with loss, achieves one small, miraculous victory at a time, and ultimately has “some of the best days” of her life. One of my favorite characters is Rosa, a classmate whose sweet, unselfish nature and mathematical genius were previously unnoticed by Jessica, because Rosa was in the back of the room, in a wheelchair. Although she has cerebral palsy, Rosa’s dearest wish is not to walk, but for others to see her, not her condition. Some of the interaction between the two friends is reminiscent of Cindy Lord’s Newbery Honor-winning Rules (one of my all-time favorite books), but Van Draanen brings some fresh twists to it as well. The Running Dream is an inspiring novel. Read it on your own or in the classroom for a great discussion.
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen