Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 6 - 8Grades 2 - 8X4.160309
The acclaimed author of Flipped delivers a powerful and healing story that’s perfect for the millions who watch the Olympics or 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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published on January 11, 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0375866671
ISBN-13: 9780375866678
33 Book Reviews
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  • soccerrunner
    soccerrunnerWednesday, May 30, 2018 at 7:54 am55 stars
    I love to run. So this book was so inspiering. Jessica never gives up. I am inspierd! I love it.
    • bookworm 15Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 9:50 am
      I am still reading this book and it is absolutely amazing. So much better than I thought it was going to be. I think it would be a cool movie
      • grapefruit
        grapefruitSunday, February 25, 2018 at 1:06 am55 stars
        Jessica is an amputee, and she's sure she'll never run again. A car accident involving an unlicensed driver and her school's bus leaves a classmate dead and Jess herself missing a leg. Every night the same dream haunts her-- running down the sidewalk, sometimes with a pipe leg, her old leg, or no leg at all. Finally a team of her friends, including Rosa who has ceberal palsy, raise money for a prosphetic leg--and Jess's story ends in running again, BFF's with Rosa, a new boyfriend-- and the running dream never came to her again.
        • balancedsoul
          balancedsoulWednesday, February 21, 2018 at 7:17 am55 stars
          i think the theme of the book was don't judge people by their condition
          • llpanda
            llpandaThursday, June 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm55 stars
            When Jessica runs she feels absolutely free. Her vision narrows to a tunnel and all she can feel is that she is flying. Then a reckless driver crashes into her track team's bus and kills a member and causes Jessica to lose a leg. Jessica then meets Rosa a girl she has never noticed before with cerebral palsy. This amazing heartfelt book describes the hardships of losing a limb and how people with disabilities just want to be seen as a person not for their problem. In conclusion I love this book and think it is one of the best ones I have ever read it may have just become my favorite : ) I recommend it to any one who hasn't read it.
            • spinnypeeps
              spinnypeepsTuesday, June 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm55 starsFeatured
              To Jessica, every rhythmic step of the feet is the pulse of her heart. When she runs, she is stronger than the pain gasping up and down her lungs. She is unstoppable. She is free. Then one day, a driver torpedoes his truck into her life, shattering the bones in her left leg beyond repair. Just like that, it was her finish line. She would never run again- or so she thought. A compelling, spunky, and heart-wrenching novel, “The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen is the inspiring story of a girl who is struck by tragedy. She must face school, depression, and new hardships along with her new “atrocity”. As she must struggle forward, she meets Rosa, a girl with celebral pansy and has never run or walked in her life. She learns that people with “disabilities” just want people to see them for who they are, not their shortcomings. I would give it 5 shining stars- I felt Jessica beating in my heart. I could somehow relate to her- it’s an experience that could happen to anyone, after all.
              • bouchboy
                bouchboyTuesday, March 8, 2016 at 8:54 am
                The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen is a heart warming, 9/10, realistic fiction book about Jessica Carlisle, a girl who lost her leg in a bus accident. Despite this injury, she manages to push through high school. Even with the chances of her running career coming to an end Jessica perseveres through it all and manages to find a way to continue her dream of being a great runner. When Jessica is on a bus to a track meet and a man runs into the team, everything is in the panicking state. A girl had just died, everyone is scared, and of course, Jessica had lost her leg. This causes her to have struggles going up the stairs and even just going to the bathroom. But with the help of family, friends, and of course her dog, Sherlock, she stays strong. Then one day with the approach of her track coach comes an opportunity. The chance to run again. Jessica receives an idea that there is prosthetic leg that will help her run again. Read the book to see the wonderful journey that this amazing girl goes through. How hard she pushes, how much she has to handle, and how much the work pays off. Join her as she struggles through the dreaded days of high school with a heartbreaking disability. The Running Dream is great book for any middle schooler. The topic is mature and is a definite must read. The rating given to this book would be a 9/10 because of the amazing plot line and the details make it amazing
                • mmkravitz
                  mmkravitzMonday, July 27, 2015 at 5:05 pm55 stars
                  I have run for a while now. And I do not know what would happen if I could not run anymore. This is what happened to Jessica. The book talks about the effort of practice and track and the teamwork of XC. I totally recommend this book to all readers!
                  • emmabookworm5
                    emmabookworm5Saturday, March 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm55 stars
                    I love this book so much! It's the most amazing, most inspiring, book I've ever read!
                    • puglover67
                      puglover67Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 8:55 am
                      This is a great book about an amazing comeback!