Summary: High school track star Jessica wakes up in the hospital after a car accident to find that the doctor who saved her life also had to amputate her left leg. She will never run again...or will she? With the help of her track team and family, as well as the inspiration of a new friend with cerebral palsy, Jessica learns that losing her leg doesn't mean she can't go on with her life, even in the face of enormous medical bills, physical therapy, and math class.
Verdict: I cried with sorrow, and then I cried with joy. I would recommend this to anyone.
Positive: What a great story! Van Draanen pulls out all the stops as Jessica deals with depression, family strain, and wound care. At the same time, the subject matter never feels crushingly depressing to the reader because the quickly read prose moves the story at light speed. This book would be great for reluctant readers both because of the story and the reading level. Jessica moves from feeling sorry for herself to having her eyes opened to just how tough a disability can be, and not just her own. I loved it when she wished that she had lost an arm instead of a leg, then realized how challenging that loss would have been. Through her friendship with Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy, she also comes to realize that while she can learn to walk again, some people were born unable to walk and run. Rather than become embittered by her tragedy, Jessica grows into a stronger person with a servant heart. This book is about becoming a champion, not on the track, but in life.
Negative: The love story element felt out of place and tacked on. I felt like it was just there to show that girls with missing legs can still date, not as an actual evolution of the story.