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The Running Dream Hardcover – January 11, 2011
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To All the Boys I've Loved Before
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them - all at once? Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. Until the one day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. Paperback | Kindle book
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More About the Author
Wendelin Van Draanen is the winner of the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children's Mystery Book for Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief. Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes is a 2003 Edgar Award nominee.
Visit Wendelin Van Draanen's Web site at www.wendelinvandraanen.com for the lastest on The Gecko and Sticky, Sammy Keyes, Shredderman, and more!
How in the world did I wind up writing a book about a kleptomaniacal, talking gecko lizard? I'm the first to admit-talking animals are not my thing. First person, realistic fiction-that's what I like. And yet, after Sticky appeared as a sidekick television character in my Shredderman series and uttered his first "Holy guaco-tacarole!" I was hooked. He's so funny. And so full of mischief.
I always develop a backstory for my characters to get to know them. Even if they're secondary characters, I have to understand their background and motivations before I let them into the story. The premise of the third Shredderman book (Meet the Gecko) is that a television crew comes to town to shoot an episode, and Shredderman helps out the star of the show. Not wanting to deal with the legal complications of using a real television show, I made up my own: The Gecko and Sticky. In the process, I came up with the hero (Dave Sanchez-a boy who has the "superpower" of being able to walk up walls, and is known as the Gecko), the sidekick (Sticky who is, as you already know, a talking gecko with . . . h'hem, sticky fingers), the villain (the deadly, diabolical, and definitely demented Damien Black), and Damien's sidekicks (the Bandito Brothers, who are, in fact, not brothers, but a thieving mariachi band).
It was definitely wilder than anything I'd come up with before, but hey-it was just a made-up TV show, right?
Ah, how diabolically infectious made-up TV shows can be!
Sticky, you see, got under my skin. His "Ay-ay-ay"s and his "What the jalapeno was that?" and his "You cut me to the quick, senor" enchanted me, and I was sorry when his role in the Shredderman books was over.
After the Shredderman quartet was complete, I began getting lots of fan mail from kids (and teachers) asking me to please write more Shredderman books. It was tempting, because I love Nolan and the gang. But I'd completed my mission with the quartet; so instead, I started writing The Gecko and Sticky.
My first attempt resulted in an over 200-page manuscript. That was closer to a Sammy Keyes novel than a Shredderman book. So I hacked it up, threw it out, and started all over.
My next try had me at 150 pages-still too long, and something about it wasn't quite right. So I chucked it and asked myself what in the world I was thinking, writing in the voice of a lizard.
But then on a flight from New York to California, I started hearing a voice. It wasn't my voice. Or the guy snoring in the seat beside me. It was, you know, a voice. One in my head.
Yeah, we writers hear them, and although we will almost certainly deny it if you press us about it, we also listen. It's how I wrote Swear to Howdy; how Bryce appeared in Flipped; where Holly's poems came from in Runaway . . . and it's how the narrator took over the storytelling for The Gecko and Sticky.
It's a man's voice in my head. (Okay, I concede that I might need some help.) But he's funny as all get-out, and I like to listen to him. He's the voice of someone who loves the art of storytelling; of someone who will hold a child's wide-eyed attention as he shares the wild antics of a boy and his mischievous gecko; of someone I'd plead, "Just one more chapter, please?"
So I hope that explains it, because I really must go. He's talking to me again and I've got to get back to Dave and Sticky. They are, after all, in the midst of some deep, diabolical doo-doo . . .
Top Customer Reviews
Jessica is a great narrator- she has a concise voice, and I like how the emotion comes out in this book. It is fictional, but it all feels real. From the details, the emotions, the responses of friends and family, down to financial matters.
I love the message that comes through both Jessica and Rose- do not see the disability- see the person. I love that even though Jessica has her own physical problems, she must overcome her prejudices and notions with Rose.
This is a great story and I recommend it
Jessica Carlisle has a gift - she can run like the wind and win race after race for her team. She's so good, in fact, that she's looking at winning gold medals in the Olympics when she gets older. Not only is she good at running, she loves it. There is nothing like the power - the "whoosh" - as her feet glide across the asphalt to people cheering. In that world she is Queen; in that world everything else makes sense. After a meet one day, where she has set a record almost impossible to achieve, Jessica is sitting on the bus with her friends when the crash comes. The lights go out and when they blink back on, she's in a hospital bed.Read more ›
The beginning was emotional and well rendered, managing to show how much running meant to Jessica by describing what it felt like to have it taken away. The chapters were short and staccato especially toward the beginning, which helped emphasize the abrupt ups and downs of her experiences. And the narration almost always did a good job of introducing people and situations without feeling like they were deliberately expository. Interestingly, the story is written in present tense and it took me a while to notice; it was just that natural. And I liked that the book was divided into sections that drew their titles from running metaphors, taking Jessica's life in micro and generalizing it to the big picture.
The only bits that felt a little fake for me were Jessica's relationship with a guy she'd had a crush on for a long time (who of course ends up actually liking her) and some of the saccharine lessons Jessica learned through befriending a girl with cerebral palsy and learning to see beyond her condition. I thought the best thing about the book was how realistically it depicted a teenage girl dealing with guilt, shame, depression, and inspiration, and how sometimes she had to re-learn things she'd already learned. I also like that not every kinda crappy, petty character in the book was magically rehabilitated at the end (because that often happens in these kinds of books, yet a couple catty girls didn't seem to learn anything), and I liked that Jessica's friends sometimes said and did the wrong things or didn't know how to feel or were selfish and imperfect, just like Jessica herself.
But, after I made it through the "My life is over" chapters, I really started to enjoy this book. Jessica is grief stricken at first, and mopes around for the first few chapters. That's really understandable, but she pretty quickly starts picking up the pieces of her life and starts figuring out how to live without her leg. I learned a lot about the process of getting a prosthetic leg, and it was really cool to see Jessica adapt and grow throughout the book.
And speaking of, it's a very emotional book. I'm really glad I have a Kindle Paperwhite, because that let me read this book in almost complete darkness, without anyone seeing me crying my eyes out. But, I didn't feel like the book made any cheap emotional shots, which shows how well-written it is. This book doesn't take any emotional shortcuts, which I really liked. The book is all about real people and real emotions.
I really liked how the book paces through all of the stages of grief. This book is specifically about grief for a lost limb, but I think it's an awesome model for handling any kind of tragic event. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a great book in every way I can think of. It's so different from my life yet so similarPublished 6 days ago by Cory Hatcher
Having health problems of my own, I like to read books about other kids that do. I found this book after I had a particular difficult surgery and was learning how to cope with my... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Book Lover
this book was very inspirational. it started off on a depressing note revealing that the once amazing high school runner jessica, was now crippled without a leg. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
As a lifetime runner, I understand the feel of freedom that running gives you and I can't imagine not being able to run any more(although riding a horse is quite the high too). Read morePublished 18 days ago by Robin Landry
This book is fantastic! A really good story of perseverance and determination. Draanen does a great job with being realistic, unlike other authors where nothing goes wrong. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
I read this entire book in a day. I myself am an avid runner and when my father got me this book for Christmas, I was thrilled to start. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kari Whitacre