Earlier this summer, I decided to read Wendelin Van Draanen’s The Running Dream. I knew the general premise of the book was about a high school track star that lost a leg after a horrible accident. The thing is, this tricks you into thinking you know what the book is about. You’re wrong. This event only gave Van Draanen the fuel to catapult the story into empowering one young runner to find the strength and will-power to help a friend cross her own finish line.
I picked up this book because 1) I’m a runner, 2) I enjoy YA fiction, and 3) I’m a fan of the author that wrote Flipped. I’ve met Van Draanen while she visited St. Louis to sign books. She asked where the best running path would be. “Forest Park,” I said without skipping a beat—my favorite stomping—errrr….running grounds. And in my head, I knew that I admired Van Draanen even more. That’s why I knew I would appreciate her book featuring a character that ran—she knew what it was like to be a runner.
Now, you could argue with me that track and field is different than the type of running Van Draanen and I do, long-distance, and I would agree to an extent. But, people who participate in either form recognize running as an art form and sport. And if you belong to either in high school, you are part of a team—a family. Van Draanen did a wonderful job narrating the camaraderie between Jessica and her teammates: from the welcome back party Jessica’s best friend orchestrated at school to cheering each other on at “Rigor Mortis Bend” to fundraising money for Jessica’s running prosthesis.
While reading The Running Dream, I related to Jessica’s freedom she felt while running. Even though the beginning of the book focused on her memories and more importantly her running dream, I understood her reminiscence of just being able to renew.
“….Running aired out my soul.
It made me feel alive.”
Book trailer press here!
Van Draanen, W. (2011). The Running dream. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.