I don’t love running.
In high school I hated it. Running was for when you were late to basketball practice or when you missed a free throw. Running for running’s sake seemed crazy.
Over time I’m starting to see the benefits and I’m hoping that one day that love will kick in like it does for main character Jessica in The Running Dream. You can tell that Van Draanen has run competitively and she does a good job of describing the sport without bogging the narrative down in too many details.
Jessica is a compelling character. Of course we’ll root for her, she’s fighting to regain the ability to walk – and maybe run. We’re not going to dislike that. We know that she’s going to grow as a character and learn more about herself; the book would flop if that didn’t happen. What I enjoyed were the character interactions. Each person involved in Jessica’s life has a distinct personality that seems like someone from real life. Like other authors have said before, a good story will explore and challenge what we know about the human experience and The Running Dream succeeds.
One of the key themes, the wide valley between good intentions and concrete actions, grabs the reader throughout without being preachy and leaves much for discussion. If you would like to learn more about one of Van Draanen’s personal causes, check out ExerciseTheRightToRead.org.
This is a great story that will stick with me. It was an enjoyable page-turner that didn’t need to rely on dystopian governments, aliens, or explosions to keep me reading.