Run, don't walk to get your copy of this inspirational story.


Leave no doubt that Jessica Carlisle (16) loves to run. Running is her whole life, and she works hard at setting personal records, beating her opponents, and being the best runner she can possibly be. That changes the day when her school bus is in a terrifying accident. One of her teammates is killed and Jessica loses a leg. She is devastated and loses all hope. Jessica just wants to run, but it seems impossible now that she only has one leg. Her dreams suddenly seem to be too far out of reach. Her doctor is optimistic about Jessica making a full recovery, but her mental health is a concern. Depressed and unmotivated, she has a hard time getting used to her new disability and starts relying on her painkillers too much.

When it is time to go back to school, Jessica’s best friend Fiona tries to help make the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible. Fiona has supported Jessica throughout this whole journey. Despite Fiona's efforts, Jessica feels uncomfortable and out of place. Jessica befriends Rosa, a girl in her math class with cerebral palsy, who helps Jessica with math, as well as the importance of judging one based on their personality, not their looks.

With the help of her friends, Jessica slowly moves from depression to hopeful. Fiona has helped with setting up a fundraiser to buy a prosthetic leg, and Jessa is optimistic that the prosthesis will allow her to run again. With the help of an anonymous donor, Jessica  gets her prosthetic leg and begins to run again. Jessica is more motivated and determined than she’s ever been and has a new goal: finding a way for Rosa to feel the joy of passing the finish line with her. When the girls finally cross the finish line together, Jessica realizes that her dreams, in fact, can come true.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
This is a book I couldn't put down. The story is captivating, the writing is descriptive, and it gets very emotional and even vulnerable at times. The way the book is written so readers can relate to Jessica's feelings. It is also easy to follow along, which makes for a pleasant experience. There were a lot of ups and downs, and I really got to understand Jessica’s perspective and how she was feeling.

There is nothing I dislike about Running Dream. Apart from being slightly long, I enjoyed this story. This is a book appropriate for readers 12 and older as it is a pretty easy read and there aren’t many difficult-to-understand parts. I would give this book as a gift. I think that it would appeal to a wide age range of readers.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Realistic, poignant, tug-at-your-heartstrings awesome. When a teen says "there isn't anything I didn't like," you know it's going to be good!

Content Awareness Factors:

None noted. There is student death and the main character begins abusing painkillers.

Type of Book:
This is a realistic story about friendship, growth, and overcoming hardship.
Educational Themes:

If you could describe the story in one word, what would it be? Jessica gives readers a lot to explore: their own inhibitions, their dreams, their friendships and relationships, and so much more. 

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
13 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
12 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 15
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. An excellent, well-written, inspirational story.

Title The Running Dream


Author Wendelin Van Draanen
Publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers, Imprint Knopf Doubleday © 2011
ISBN 9780375866678
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.00
Genres Sports, Self Worth, Realism | Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
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