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  • The Running Dream
  • Written by Wendelin Van Draanen
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On Sale: January 11, 2011
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89679-8
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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ISBN: 978-0-307-74798-3
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

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 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.

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."


From the Hardcover edition.
Wendelin Van Draanen

About Wendelin Van Draanen

Wendelin Van Draanen - The Running Dream
Books have always been a part of Wendelin Van Draanen’s life. Her mother taught her to read at an early age, and she has fond memories of story time with her father, when she and her brothers would cuddle up around him and listen to him read stories.
 
Growing up, Van Draanen was a tomboy who loved to be outside chasing down adventure. She did not decide that she wanted to be an author until she was an adult. When she tried her hand at writing a screenplay about a family tragedy, she found the process quite cathartic and from that experience, turned to writing novels for adults. She soon stumbled upon the joys of writing for children.
 
Feedback from her readers is Van Draanen’s greatest reward for writing. “One girl came up to me and told me I changed her life. It doesn't get any better than that,” she said. Van Draanen hopes to leave her readers with a sense that they have the ability to steer their own destiny—that individuality is a strength, and that where there's a will, there's most certainly a way.
 
Her first book was published in 1997, and since then her titles have won many awards. Now in its sixteenth installment, the Sammy Keyes Mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children’s Mystery five times, with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief bringing home the statue. Additionally, she has won the Christopher medal for Shredderman: Secret Identity, the California Young Reader Medal for Flipped, and the Schneider Family Book Award for The Running Dream. Her books have been translated into many foreign languages, Shredderman became a Nickelodeon made-for-TV movie, and Flipped was released as a feature film, directed by Rob Reiner. She lives in California with her husband and two sons. Her hobbies include the “Three R’s”: Reading, Running and Rock ’n’ Roll. 
 
Fun Facts
Born January 6 in Chicago, IL 
 
Previous Jobs
Forklift driver, coach (sports), musician, high school math and computer science teacher 
 
Inspiration for writing
The past, the future, and the struggle for a happy ending!
 
Favorites
. . . food: sushi
. . . clothes to wear: Sneakers, shorts, and sweatshirts
. . . colors: Emerald green with a splash of midnight blue
Awards

Awards

NOMINEE Maine Student Book Award
NOMINEE Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award
NOMINEE Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Texas Lone Star Reading List
NOMINEE Connecticut Nutmeg Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Nebraska Golden Sower Award
WINNER Young Adult Services Division, School Library Journal Author Award
WINNER Schneider Family Book Award
NOMINEE Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
NOMINEE Washington Evergreen Young Adult Book Award
NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE California Young Reader Medal
NOMINEE Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
NOMINEE New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award
NOMINEE Kansas William White Award
NOMINEE Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
NOMINEE Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award
NOMINEE Indiana Young Hoosier Award
NOMINEE Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Award
WINNER 2012 Schneider Family Book Award
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