|THE RUNNING DREAM
Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Jessica has conflicting and confusing reactions to many of the events in her story and I found this to be very authentic. There are moments here, especially in the more introspective moments of the novel, that are incredibly powerful and thought-provoking. However, some of the other characters were less realistic and I wished that the personality of the boy Jessica had a crush on had came through more clearly in the beginning and middle of the story instead of waiting until the end. I understand that Jessica had trouble trusting him -- or anyone, really -- after she lost her leg, but as a reader it pulled me out of the story and made it difficult to like the characters and their relationships much as I wanted to.
The theme of seeing the person, not the disability is a strong one here and for the most part I loved it. Jessica's journey is shown in a very realistic light (this, of course, coming from someone who knows nothing about prosthetic limbs or amputations), but her growing friendship with a girl who has cerebral palsy seemed a bit heavy-handed at times. While the progression of their friendship was well-written and understandable, the theme of acceptance felt pushed a bit too much at times and there were moments when I wished it would ease up. Because, really, this is a great story that gets the message across strongly enough on its own.
This is definitely a book I'd recommend, not only because it deals with an issue I haven't seen handled in YA before, but also because it's very well-written with moments of incredible power. Especially great for readers who are interested in the subject matter or wanting to read a sports-themed book.