The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

“My hopes, my dreams, my life…it’s over….I find myself face to face with the truth. My right leg has no foot. No ankle. No shin!” This is the reality for 16-year-old Jessica Carlise! Jessica was the star of the high school track team, and running was her life! How can she possibly handle such a devasting loss?
This book is actually divided into sections like a race: finish line, headwind, straightaway, adjusting the blocks, starting line. Each part tells the story of how Jessica is dealing with her crippling injury.
Because she is in a wheelchair, the teacher puts her at a table in the back of the room with a girl who has cerebral palsy. Jessica has never even noticed this person! Now she finds herself “stuck” with Rosa. But, this leads to new insights on Jessica’s part! She discovers that Rosa is brilliant in math! She learns to understand Rosa’s speech. They become friends, and Jessica learns what it is like to really see another person!
While this book is quite filled with medical details and emotional stress, it is a truly inspiring story! My book club kids really “got” the way Rosa felt like nobody even noticed her!
As the School Library Journal said, this book is “a study in faith and determination. Readers will cheer for Jessica’s recovery and be reminded to recognize people for their strengths and not overlook them because of their disabilities.”
A Great Book for older Middle School Students!

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