The overwhelming amount of love I have for this novel is making it difficult for me to write an accurate review of it. For me, someone who has been a runner through and through for more than half of my life, this was much more than just a book. I am by no means a realistic fiction reader, but sometimes I make an exception. Not only would I normally avoid a book about running due to the fact that most authors can’t relate their plot to what it’s really like, but I would normally stay far away from anything having to do with illness, amputated limbs, or any of life’s other physical woes. Despite all of this, I picked up The Running Dream. The Running Dream is about Jessica, a 400 meter runner in high school, whose track team suffers a collision on the way home from a meet. She loses part of her leg, and since her greatest passion and focus is on running, she’s devastated. Even though I knew that would happen based on the summary on the back of the book, it still hurt me to read it on those first few pages. The rest of the novel is Jessica’s journey back to the track, which is told in a really unique and profound way. So, here’s what Wendelin Van Draanen got right about running: You can’t keep a real runner away from it. Running is so much more than a sport, and most of the time, runners are competing against themselves. In this sense especially, the characterization was spot on. Sadly, this is a fact that many other writers ignore. This novel got it right in so many ways and is an exceptionally quick read with short chapters that make you want to keep on flipping. If you are a runner, you need to read The Running Dream because it is relatable, inspirational, hopeful, truthful, and loyal to the spirit of running. If you’re not a runner, you should read The Running Dream because it is heartwarming, thought-provoking, and encapsulating of so many YA themes. It deals with friendships, family relationships, and school struggles in the most realistic way. It teaches perseverance, identity, courage, and faith among other things. Whether you are an avid reader or one who is normally reluctant, you must give this book a chance.
Goodreads rating: 4.30
Recommended for: Athletes, Realistic Fiction Fans, Reluctant Readers