Monday, November 17, 2014

A Review of 'The Running Dream' by Wendelin van Draanan (Audio Book)

"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."

This was a unique read.  I'm not a runner, but even with this in mind, I really enjoyed this book.  In the beginning, Jessica's belly-aching got really old.  Yes, I get that she lost a limb and that it's a huge adjustment and that it's natural to grieve such a loss, but I feel that a lot of time was devoted to Jessica's depression and grieving over this lost limb.  Too much time.  I was far more interested in the middle and the end of the book when Jessica was overcoming obstacles like taking a shower, maneuvering about the house, and using her prosthetic leg.

Speaking of prosthetic legs, this was also a very interesting part for me to read about.

Normal prosthetic for walking
I didn't realize how much work and money goes into procuring a prosthetic leg for one person.  There's tons of measuring and adjusting and testing... there's a preliminary model that's basically an exposed metal pipe (according to my understanding) and that comes before final adjustments are made and a cover for the leg is created.  It's a very different process than what I thought-- prosthetic legs are not one size fits all.  No siree.

Prosthetic leg built specifically for running
To return to my first point, it was really exciting to listen as Jessica returned to school and as she learned to walk with her prosthetic leg.  just listening to her thought process about doing things that those of us without prosthetic legs do without really thinking about it.  Things like getting upstairs to take a shower or grab something from a room really quickly.  Driving.  Getting to class in a timely manner.

It was also extraordinary to read about the differences between a leg used for regular every day activity and one specifically for running.  I knew what the prosthetic legs for running looked like, but I didn't realize there was such a difference between a normal prosthetic limb and that one.  I thought they basically did the same things as the other.  No, they function quite differently!  They're built differently because the normal prosthetic leg does not and cannot completely master every function that an unaffected leg can master.

Overall, this book was an awesome learning experience.  It helps promote understanding of those who use prosthetic limbs and that's awesome.

I give 'The Running Dream':
Thanks for Reading!


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