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The Running Dream

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  9,992 ratings  ·  1,824 reviews
Winner of the 2012 Schneider Family Book Award

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Divergent by Veronica RothBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysThe Running Dream by Wendelin Van DraanenThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Georgia Peach Book Award 2012-2013 Nominees
3rd out of 38 books — 55 voters
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysDivergent by Veronica RothA Monster Calls by Patrick NessOkay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Mock Printz 2012
18th out of 51 books — 269 voters

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Community Reviews

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I was nervous about reading The Running Dream. On the one hand, Wendelin Van Draanen has become one of my favorite YA authors over the past few months, thanks to her brilliant Sammy Keyes YA mystery series. On the other, I've come to be wary of novels featuring kids with amputeeism--thanks, in part, to books like Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief, which stars a kid without a hand but reads as if the author has never talked to a person without a hand in her life. So I'd been deliberately avoiding Van...more
There was some books that a 5-star is not enough to convey how amazing they are. This is one of the books. I wish I can give it six stars, ten stars....because this book is up there on a caliber by itself.

For me, what makes this book amazing is how real the story was told. This story is an emotional one and actually Wendelin van DRaanen can easily exploit the story to make us, the reader, sob and cry and feel sorry for the character. But, she didn't do it.
She told the story as it is, nothing les...more
I am not a runner. In fact, my body vehemently resists most exercise, preferring the couch, Netflix, and fistfuls of potato. So a book centered around the love of running did not seem to be my cup of tea. But this? This was pretty good. It almost, almost made me want to get up and run.

In The Running Dream, 17-year old track star Jessica has just lost her right foot. The book follows her through her frustrations, healing, and eventual ability to feel comfortable in her own skin. It's a perfectly...more
Brian Kelley
Positive. Uplifting. Inspi­ra­tional.

Unlike any book I've read recent­ly, pos­i­tive ener­gy radi­ates from Wen­delin Van Draa­nen's YA novel The Run­ning Dream. I'd added the book to my "to read" pile at some point this sum­mer and over the course of a few months sev­er­al books have shoul­dered their way past it and into my hands.

It took my over­hear­ing a con­ver­sa­tion in my 8th grade class­room a cou­ple of weeks ago for me to anchor the book solid­ly into my upcom­ing (cur­rent) read­in...more
Duffy Pratt
I'm torn about how I feel about this book. For what it aspires to be, its quite good. But I wanted more from it. The story is decently told and moves along nicely. The characters are stock, but there's enough depth there to tug on the heartstrings at a couple of points. For basic background, this is the story of a high school track star who loses her right leg in a bus accident.

There are several aspects of the book that are quite good. First, there is a strong and clear sense of what its like to...more
like becca so very perfectly encapsulated, this book's 'very... vanilla. Very squeaky clean.'

couldn't have put it better meself. in a lot of ways it reminds me of Wonder, with the plot revolving around a disabled teen/tween tryna get his/her shizz together, and the book being a neatly-packaged message on the power of kindness and/or determination. i guess i prefer my contemps to be a little more...realistic, as in, a lot more dark and gut-wrenching and thus life-like.
I'm a huge fan of track and field. Which is not surprising if you knew where I came from. In my country this guy *points to picture* is practically a national hero.

While reading this story I couldn't get Oscar Pistorius out of my mind. He was one of track and field's biggest comeback stories this year and, like Jessica, he is also a BK (below knee) amputee. My throat was raw for most of this novel-- but in a good way. Jessica's attitude towards her missing limb, life, family, and friends was ver...more
I wasn't in the right frame of mind to start this: The realism and the idea of the main character coping with a catastrophic injury just wasn't appealing. Soon, though, I was into it and amazed at how involved I was becoming. Almost every place in the narrative that things could have gone sappy, I allowed myself to find uplifting. What might have come off as didactic turned out inspirational. Bits that some writers might cast in a melodramatic light were just honestly emotional.

The scenario isn'...more
Mrs. Cubby Culbertson
Well, I believe I have a new top contender for my favorite book for 2013! My favorite books for 2012 were Wonder and The One and Only Ivan. Ahhh, The Running Dream. I loved the story and I love the way that Jessica's emotions, and goals, and circumstances can be recognized in many other situations. Her determination and spirit can be inspiration for many people facing difficulties. Wow! Just WOW! Get it! Read it! Enjoy it!
Every now and then I read a book like this just to make sure that my heart isn't really made of stone. This is the kind of book that keeps you weepy throughout, both with Jessica's despair and depression straight through her recovery and the kindness of her friends.

Jessica is on her way home from a track meet (at which she ran her best race ever) when the team bus is hit by a truck hauling cars to junkyard. In the accident, one of her teammates is killed, and Jessica loses her right leg below t...more
Anna Johnson

Jessica was an amazing track runner before her dreams were shattered coming home from the race in which she ran her fastest time. The track teams bus crashes taking Jessica's right leg and her teammate's life. Jessica is devastated as she struggles to do everyday actions and she loses all hope in ever running again. Once Jessica becomes well enough--both physically and mentally--she makes a scary return to school. Due to her condition, Jessica's eyes are opened to the other students who have dis...more
This book was outstanding! It will definitely stick with me for the rest of my life. It made me appreciate my life and what/who I have. After reading this book I've definitely changed my way on how I see people with disabilities- not that I ever saw disabled people in a bad way- but it's made me realize that there's way more to them then there condition and that I should take the time to get to know them. Also, since I enjoy exercise and running it also motivated me a whole lot more to just get...more
Sep 12, 2014 Amanda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: runners and anyone who has ever wanted to cross any type of finish line
1st read 7/21/11: I loved this book!! The Running Dream is definitely one of my all-time favorites. I don't know if it was the plot, or the characters, or the running theme, but I loved it all the same. Jessica, the main character is very similar to me, which made the message really hit home.

1. She is 16.
2. She is a runner. "I am a runner. That's what I do. That's who I am" (6).
3. She runs the 400 meter dash. "Fifty-five flat! It's a new personal best for me. A new record for the league" (11)....more
At first glance, The Running Dream doesn't seem like much. Just another one of those hart-warming stories or whatnot. But they didn't seem to think that way on Goodreads. Every review I had read gave this book a 5 stars, and an infinite amount of praises. So, setting my low expectations aside, I went into the book with fresher, better viewpoint. And higher expectations. Needless to say, I wish I had kept those low expectations, because I wasn't all that impressed by this book...

Jessica wasn't a...more
This is the story of 16-year-old Jessica, a high school track star who loses part of her right leg below the knee after being in a bus accident following a track meet. Jessica lives to run and is devestated to think that she will never run again. The story begins in the hospital following the accident and we see Jessica's progress through her first-person viewpoint as she slowly adjusts physically and mentally to her new condition.

Jessica is likeable and realistic. If she appears whiney and unap...more
Linda Dexheimer
This book is a great feel-good read for just about anyone but especially for teenagers. It's a contemporary realistic fiction that readers can relate to easily. The first couple of chapters can be frustrating for an adult to read because the character, Jessica, is rather whiny and obstinate but as the story progresses she pulls you in. Despite being tedious in the beginning, I found myself wondering what Jessica was going to do next and how she was going to handle different situations. Jessica i...more
Short chapters open for a direct path into Jessica's mind; the reader is right there with her from the beginning feeling her despair mingled with her love of running. So when the depression kicks in, Jessica doesn't seem too mopey since we already sympathize with her. The doubts and self-conscious thoughts make her likeable, flawed and relatable.

The plot is surprisingly simple. Aside from Jessica's personal struggles and worries over insurance that had excellent obstacle potential (but were reso...more
Liz (Consumed by Books)

I ran competitively for seven years of my life, and still run on occasion, so young adult novels about runners feel like they were written specifically with me in mind. I’m really glad that my book club gave me the opportunity to read this book as it’s been chilling on my shelves for a while. It sounds like the weirdest thing to say about a book where the main character is an amputee, but The Running Dream made me all kinds of happy.

The Running Dream is one of the most readable books I’ve read i...more
Karin Foster
Wendelin Van Draanen is one of my favorite young adult authors. Her development of Sammy Keyes and her story lines have been humorous, clever and talented. And I'm sure that numerous readers have been entertained by Sammy.

The Running Dream is also a good story, but not because of the above mentioned characteristics. It's good because the author helps us feel empathy for the character and her situation. But, this is not a tale told in a particularly unique way, nor does the author take particula...more
I liked the story. I would have no reservation about recommending the book to a student at the middle school level. There is some detailed description of the injury (leg amputation), but nothing too graphic.

The message of the story is great and is one that all people should hear. The book will make kids think about that message because it is happening to someone who could be their friend.

As an adult reader I felt like there were a few things that were just kind of glossed over that I wanted mor...more
The Running Dream is such an inspiring story that has encouraged me to consciously be more aware of how lucky I am. It really is so important to be grateful, and to remember not to take things for granted, though that is much easier said than done. Jessica was a very strong protagonist with so much determination and self-awareness. I really enjoyed seeing things through the lens of her perspective, as she was both likeable and relatable. The Running Dream is realistic and familiar, yet its subje...more
This book is about a girl who lives to run. One day, she gets in a bus accident and looses half of her leg. Her road to recovery is long and tedious and she wishes that she could just have her leg back. Her track team comes together to do something that will change her life.

I found this book to be very good. The plot was captivating and heart warming. This book really made me look at a different perspective from someone who lives to do something, but they cant physically do it.

The reason why I g...more
This book deserves way more five stars.
I know that I'm extremely biased as running is something I love and do on a frequent basis, regardless this book should be enjoyed by anyone with a heart.
The central character, Jessica, loses one of her legs in a tragic car accident and is forced into a below knee amputation. This may not be a huge deal to the average person. So what? I guess she can always wear a prosthetic or use a wheelchair, she has friends, right? wrong.
Jessica is a 400m sprinter, run...more
Tessa Keeton
This book was a very inspirational book about a girl named Jessica. Jessica loves to run. It's all she's ever done, and it's all she ever wants to do. People ask her how it's so natural to love and be good at it and she says, "I have always loved running. Since the beginning, I've never even had to count my steps." It's a second nature for her until something happens that will change her life for forever. On her way home from a track meet, which she set her personal record for the 400 meter, th...more
Ed Casey
As a runner I really connected with this book. The novel tells the tale of Jessica, a 16 year old high school track star that has to have one of her knees amputated following a bus crash. Jessica must not only adjust to her altered life, she also wonders if she will ever get to run again. Her friends assist her as she follows her dream, yet, her goals expand as her journey progresses.
I really enjoyed this novel. I started running almost three years ago and this hobby has become such an integral...more
The Running Dream is an interesting case study for me, and a big part of the reason why is because of something completely coincidental to the book. When I'm going to read a novel that I believe might really have the chance to be something great, I try not to start it if I sense that I'm becoming sick. In my experience, reading while sick is a lot like how watching a movie in a theater with my fingers in my ears would probably feel. The booming sound in a cineplex would almost certainly be loud...more
I picked this book up on a whim at the Book Fair, and within a week or so, it had already passed through the hands of three of my students. All of them had rave reviews.

Jessica, a runner, loses her leg in a bus accident. The story arc watches her come to grips with her loss and recognize hope in her year-long journey of healing. In the process, she meets a friend, Rosa, who changes her outlook and challenges her goals. The book is told in 5 parts, in the reverse order of the race (a clever and w...more
Shaeley Santiago
This was the kind of book to really make you appreciate your life! Jessica wakes up in the hospital after a bus crash to discover that she's a BK (below knee) amputee. It's not until days later when her best friend, Fiona, visits her that she finds out another girl from the track team was killed in the accident. But Jessica can't get past the fact that for her, the pain and fight of daily life is still staring her in the face.

The story focuses on how Jessica slowly regains her hope, thanks in l...more
Feb 07, 2011 Christi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
Wow. I, just, WOW. I did not anticipate how much this book would move me. From the very first chapter, where Jessica is slowly coming out of anesthesia after the operation to remove her foot, I was sucked into her life. Jessica and readers alike learn about the complications of the surgery, recovery, and process for creating a prosthetic limb. Van Draanen's writing is so realistic that I was cringing right along with Jessica the first time she tried to "hop" up the stairs in her house.

I was als...more
I’m still teary-eyed from reading this amazing book. Wendelin Van Draanen had definitely made the roster of one of my favorite authors. I read it because a student came up to me yesterday during homeroom (reading time) and plopped it down on my desk. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Mrs. Gifford, I hate to admit it, but this is the best book I’ve ever read.” He was slightly abashed to admit he loved a book that was about a...GIRL! Since he’s also in my Gifted and Talented writing class, he ha...more
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Opinions? Like/Dislike? 8 62 Jul 19, 2014 07:57PM  
Wild Things: YA G...: October 2013- The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen 6 11 Oct 31, 2013 06:25PM  
2013 Hub Reading ...: The Running Dream 2 10 May 05, 2013 11:15AM  
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Van Draanen was born in Chicago, Illinois. One of her early influences was Dandelion Wine . According to the author, the book was "about the magic of growing up and [it] reminded me of all the wonderful mischief my brothers and I got into when we were young." Bradbury's work inspired Van Draanen to write How I Survived Being a Girl, which was published by HarperCollins in 1997. Other early influen...more
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“If the mind's not strong, the body acts weak, even if it's not. If the mind says it's too cold or too rainy or too windy to run, the body will be more than happy to agree. If the mind says it would be better to rest or recover or cut practice, the body will be glad to oblige.” 41 likes
“I wipe away my tears and nod, because the pain in my leg is nothing compare to the one in my heart.” 29 likes
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