Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

On her way home from a track meet, Jessica loses part of her leg in a school bus accident. For her, the thought of never running again makes her want to curl up and die. There are many dark days for her at the beginning of her recovery but after she stops feeling sorry for herself, she begins making speedy progress to walking again. Soon her coach and track team show her that her dream of running again might not be that far fetched after all...

At first the story was incredibly depressing. It felt like we were journeying through Jessica's dark night of the soul with her. But as the novel progressed, it got more and more hopeful. When she stopped feeling sorry for herself, Jessica became a force to be reckoned with. 

I am someone who hates running with a passion. I want to like it so bad. I have tried on several different occasions to like it, but I just can't force myself to do it. So despite my distaste for running, I still loved this book. All of the characters and situations are so masterfully written that every scene manages to stir up some sort of  clear emotion within the reader whether it was love, fondness, frustration or even all-out hate (Jessica's biggest rival for example was someone I would have loved to smack upside the head).  The first few pages give the reader an indication of just what is so appealing about running for Jessica when she describes what running did for her as a person. She said, "Running aired out my soul." I mean wow! What a statement. Those five words alone made me want to attempt to take up running again. And for me, the mark of a successful book is one that I still want to live inside of even after I finish it. It's been a few days since I finished this book and I am still living with Jessica. I can't let go of her. 

This book can appeal to a wide array of readers: whether it's runners or athletes in general, people overcoming physical disabilities, readers who know a friend or family member who had to overcome a physical disability, or anyone who just likes reading stories of overcoming adversity. What I also loved about this book is while it is categorized as Young Adult for the simple fact that the main character is in high school, it could easily be read by students in any grade. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an inspiring read.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

There will never be another One and Only Ivan

I was devastated to find out earlier this evening from my friend Mr. Schu that Ivan the gorilla passed away today. It is especially sad for me because my husband and I are on vacation in Florida right now and were considering stopping at Zoo Atlanta to see him on our way home to Michigan.

If you have not read The One and Only Ivan yet, I highly encourage you to do so. It rivals Charlotte's Web when it comes to children's literature that will stand the test of time.

Rest in peace Ivan. You will be dearly missed and your memory will live on in your story.