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The running dream
2011
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Losing her leg in a car accident and fitted with a prosthetic that challenges her athletic ambitions, Jessica finds herself alienated from former friends and is tutored by a misfit girl she previously avoided. - (Baker & Taylor)

The acclaimed author of Flipped delivers a powerful and healing story that&;s perfect for anyone who&;s ever thought that something was impossible. Readers will revel in the story of a girl who puts herself back together&;and learns to dream bigger than ever before&;after she&;s told she&;ll never run again.

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 and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself&;she wants to take Rosa with her

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN recently ran her first marathon. She was struck by the people with physical handicaps who were also running and was inspired to write this book about overcoming adversity with courage and grace and strength.

Van Draanen was a teacher for many years before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of many beloved and award-winning books. For middle graders she&;s written Swear to Howdy, and the Sammy Keyes mystery series. For teens and tweens, there&;s Flipped, The Running Dream, Confessions of a Serial Kisser and Runaway. And for younger readers, check out The Shredderman quartet and the Gecko and Sticky. Wendelin Van Draanen lives in Central California with her husband and two sons. Find her on the web at WendelinVanDraanen.com or on Twitter: @WendelinVanD. - (Random House, Inc.)

First Chapter or Excerpt
Chapter 1

My life is over.

Behind the morphine dreams is the nightmare of reality.

A reality I can't face.

I cry myself back to sleep wishing, pleading, praying that I'll wake up from this, but the same nightmare always awaits me.

"Shhh," my mother whispers. "It'll be okay." But her eyes are swollen and red, and I know she doesn't believe what she's saying.

My father--now that's a different story. He doesn't even try to lie to me. What's the use? He knows what this means.

My hopes, my dreams, my life . . . it's over.

The only one who seems unfazed is Dr. Wells. "Hello there, Jessica!" he says. I don't know if it's day or night. The second day or the first. "How are you feeling?"

I just stare at him. What am I supposed to say, "Fine"?

He inspects my chart. "So let's have a look, shall we?"

He pulls the covers off my lap, and I find myself face to face with the truth.

My right leg has no foot.

No ankle.

No shin.

It's just my thigh, my knee, and a stump wrapped in a mountain of gauze.

My eyes flood with tears as Dr. Wells removes the bandages and inspects his handiwork. I turn away, only to see my mother fighting back tears of her own. "It'll be okay," she tells me, holding tight to my hand. "We'll get through this."

Dr. Wells is maddeningly cheerful. "This looks excellent, Jessica. Nice vascular flow, good color . . . you're already healing beautifully."

I glance at the monstrosity below my knee.

It's red and bulging at the end. Fat staples run around my stump like a big ugly zipper, and the skin is stained dirty yellow.

"How's the pain?" he asks. "Are you managing okay?"

I wipe away my tears and nod, because the pain in my leg is nothing compared to the one in my heart.

None of their meds will make that one go away.

He goes on, cheerfully. "I'll order a shrinker sock to control the swelling. Your residual limb will be very tender for a while, and applying the shrinker sock may be uncomfortable at first, but it's important to get you into one. Reducing the swelling and shaping your limb is the first step in your rehabilitation." A nurse appears to re-bandage me as he makes notes in my chart and says, "A prosthetist will be in later today to apply it."

Tears continue to run down my face.

I don't seem to have the strength to hold them back.

Dr. Wells softens. "The surgery went beautifully, Jessica." He says this like he's trying to soothe away reality. "And considering everything, you're actually very lucky. You're alive, and you still have your knee, which makes a huge difference in your future mobility. BK amputees have it much easier than AK amputees."

"BK? AK?" my mom asks.

"I'm sorry," he says, turning to my mother. "Below knee. Above knee. In the world of prosthetic legs it's a critical difference." He prepares to leave. "There will obviously be an adjustment period, but Jessica is young and fit, and I have full confidence that she will return to a completely normal life."

My mother nods, but she seems dazed. Like she's wishing my father was there to help her absorb what's being said.

Dr. Wells flashes a final smile at me. "Focus on the positive, Jessica. We'll have you up and walking again in short order."

This from the man who sawed off my leg.

He whooshes from the room leaving a dark, heavy cloud of the unspoken behind.

My mother smiles and coos reassuringly, but she knows what I'm thinking.

What does it matter?

I'll never run again.



Chapter 2

I am a runner.

That's what I do.

That's who I am.

Running is all I know, or want, or care about.

It was a race around the soccer field in third grade that swept me into a real love of running.

Breathing the sweet smell of spring grass.

Sailing over dots of blooming clover.

Beating all the boys.

After that, I couldn't stop. I ran everywhere. Raced everyone. I loved the wind across my cheeks, through my hair.

Running aired out my soul.

It made me feel alive.

And now?

I'm stuck in this bed, knowing I'll never run again.



Chapter 3

The prosthetist is stocky and bald, and he tells me to call him Hank. He tries to talk to me about a fake leg, but I make him stop.

I just can't listen to this.

He gets the nurse to put a new bandage on my leg. One that's thinner. With less gauze.

I'm cold.

The room's cold.

Everything feels cold.

I want to cover up, but Hank is getting ready to put on the shrinker sock. It's like a long, toeless tube sock. He pulls it through a short length of wide PVC pipe, then folds the top part of the sock back over the pipe. I don't understand what he's going to do with it, and I don't care.

Until he slips the pipe over my stump.

"Oh!" I gasp as pressure and pain shoot up my leg.

"I'm sorry," Hank says, transferring the sock from the pipe onto my leg as he pulls the pipe off. "We're almost done."

Half the tube sock is now dangling from my stump. Hank slides a small ring up the dangling end, then stretches out the rest of the sock and doubles it up over the ring and over my stump.

There's pressure. Throbbing. But Hank assures me it'll feel better soon. "The area is swollen," he tells me. "Pooling with blood. The shrinker sock will help reduce the swelling and speed your recovery. Once the wound is healed and the volume of your leg is reduced, we can fit you with a preparatory prosthesis."

"How long will that take?" my mother asks. Her voice starts out shaky, but she tries to steady it.

Hank whips out a soft tape measure and circles the end of my stump. "That's hard to say."

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

Sixteen-year-old Jessica is the track team's star sprinter until tragedy strikes: the team van is struck, killing one runner and demolishing Jessica's right leg. The book begins with Jessica refusing to acknowledge the result: a stump. But she is slowly reintroduced to life, which involves being fitted for a prosthesis, returning to school, and dealing with the usual—tough teachers, mean girls, and one really hot, sensitive, supportive boy. It's a classic problem novel in a lot of ways; accordingly, Van Draanen inserts setbacks with narrative precision, the most affecting of which (surprisingly) is the insurance battle that Jessica's parents face. Overall, though, this is a tremendously upbeat book, with Jessica's family, friends, and community coming together (the track team raises funds to buy Jessica a $20,000 running leg). Even a subplot involving Jessica's friendship with the cerebral palsy–afflicted Rosa is not as treacly as it could have been. Van Draanen's extensive research into both running and amputees pays dividends—readers will truly feel what it's like to walk (or run) a mile (or 10) in Jessica's shoes. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

PW Annex Reviews

When track star Jessica loses her leg in a school bus accident, she is devastated that she will never run again. After weaning herself off painkillers (upon which she's become dependent) and learning to walk with crutches, she returns to school at the urging of her supportive best friend. When her track coach shows her videos of amputees running on prostheses, she's riveted at the thought of reclaiming her passion—if, that is, her team can raise the ,000 needed to buy the leg. A tender subplot about Jessica's friendship with a girl with cerebral palsy seems scripted to underscore the message about seeing beyond disabilities ("Don't sum up the person based on what you see, or what you don't understand; get to know them," Jessica says). But Van Draanen sensitively conveys Jessica's struggles, from getting into the shower to her fear that no guys will be attracted to her. Jessica's gradual acceptance of her new life's limitations and her discovery of its unanticipated gifts should satisfy readers, who will root for her as she learns to run again. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—Jessica has run her personal best at a track meet—then there's a tragic bus accident and the high school junior loses her leg as well as her future dreams. From waking up in the hospital and coping with the trauma, to her return home, then school, she tries to grab her life back. On one level the story offers inspiration to those dealing with physical changes in their own lives and the stages of recovery, fight, survival, and victory as Jessica reaches deep to push past her wall of self-pity and loathing, and moves beyond the "finish line." On a deeper level, there is her blind discrimination toward a fellow classmate who has cerebral palsy. Rosa is hard to understand and easy to ignore. She is anchored to a wheelchair. Jessica, encumbered by her crutches and her tender "stump," is seated in the back of the class, out of the way, next to Rosa. She learns that the girl is smart, wise, and friendly. They pass notes and share lunch. Rosa writes, "I wish people would see me and not my condition." When Jessica is running again—on a specially engineered prosthesis—she challenges herself to help her friend be seen. How Jessica orchestrates putting Rosa in the forefront of a community race and pushing her wheelchair across a finish line 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.—Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

[Page 121]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

Running is Jessica's life.  A talented track star with plenty of potential, she was hoping for a sports scholarship to college but when the team's bus collides with a car, Jessica's running career is over.  Her right leg, shattered beyond repair, is amputated below the knee.  Adjustment to life without her leg is difficult, and her nightly dreams about running are bitter reminders about what she has lost. Unable to walk, much less run, Jessica returns to school feeling hopeless and that her life is without meaning.  While small victories and new friendships help take the edge off her frustrations, it is not until she sees YouTube videos of amputee athletes competing professionally that Jessica truly believes she might be able to run again Readers seeking a gentle inspirational story about a girl overcoming adversity will not be disappointed. Jessica's leg heals quickly and her emotional journey is one of gratitude and positive thinking rather than depression and self pity. Her narrative of her life as an amputee, especially the details of getting her prosthesis, are frank and fascinating. Her emerging friendship with Rosa, a student with Cerebral Palsy who uses a wheelchair, is a convenient device for bringing awareness to the invisibility of the disabled, but it fits with the upbeat tone of the book. Although the characters are slightly bland and there are few surprises here, Van Draanen has created an engaging story about friendship and inner strength that teaches as it inspires.— Summer Hayes PLB 3Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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