Title: The Running Dream
Author: Wendelin Van Draalen
Release Date: January 2011
Publisher: Knopf Books
Goodreads Rating: 4.29 stars
Review: Jessica, a die-hard runner, feels like her life is over when she loses a leg in an accident. As she struggles to cope with being in the spotlight and having to wear a cyborg-like prosthetic, she becomes closer and closer with Rosa, a girl who has cerebral palsy. Soon Jessica finds herself able to run again, but crossing the finish line is no longer enough for her - she wants to take Rosa with her.
THE RUNNING DREAM is the epitome of a feel-good novel. The story was sweet and uplifting without bordering on sickly, and every time I put down the book, I felt a little lighter and more cheered. Not only did it impart an optimistic outlook on me, it definitely felt real and not just like a fairy tale. There were several mentions of people in the real world who lost a leg or even both and ended up competing successfully against those who had all the limbs they were born with.
One aspect I really appreciated was how well written Jessica's character was. She managed to overcome limitations imposed upon her with admirable strength, and at the same time, she felt like an ordinary, true-to-life girl. Initially, she was of course reacting realistically to her situation, but I liked that she didn't pass the border of too dull and depressed, and I found myself sympathizing with her for - excuse the pun - every step of the way.
What did bother me somewhat, though, was that while the vast majority of the story read as realistic, there were still some parts that felt too much like a happy-go-lucky fairy tale. Towards the end, everything just happened to go "right" and work out a little too perfectly, but while I wished it wasn't quite that way, it didn't detract too much from the story.
All in all, THE RUNNING DREAM is an emotional, uplifting novel that is sure to raise your spirits by the last page you turn. Jessica is a character easy to relate to, with realistic reactions that don't get tiresome or overbearing on the plot. Sometimes the world is a bit too perfect, but for the most part, the novel had an air of reality. This is a novel for anyone who wants a feel-good story of a girl who didn't let anyone or anything stop her.