Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-Narrator Laura Flanagan pulls listeners into Wendelin Van Draanen's heartfelt novel (Knopf, 2011) with an immediate connection that only deepens as the story progresses. She fully becomes Jessica, a 16-year-old track star who loses a leg in a tragic bus accident that also claimed the life of a teammate. Listeners will feel Jessica's pain through Flanagan's poetic pacing that is tinged with a sharpness that perfectly matches Jessica's initial reaction to her new reality. The emotional drain that Jessica feels will leave listeners equally moved as she and her family cope with the physical and financial challenges and adjustments that her care brings. Each character is given a distinct vocal personality-from Jessica's best friend, Fiona, with her spunky determination to Rosa, a classmate with cerebral palsy who becomes Jessica's math tutor, inspiration, and friend. Listeners will cheer her team on as they try to raise enough money to help Jessica run again with a special prosthetic leg. Flanagan expertly transitions her narration to match Jessica's growth and perseverance, making the running scenes feel authentic. This inspirational audiobook will have students reflecting on their own lives.-Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Sixteen-year-old Jessica is the track team's star sprinter until tragedy strikes: the team van is struck, killing one runner and demolishing Jessica's right leg. The book begins with Jessica refusing to acknowledge the result: a stump. But she is slowly reintroduced to life, which involves being fitted for a prosthesis, returning to school, and dealing with the usual tough teachers, mean girls, and one really hot, sensitive, supportive boy. It's a classic problem novel in a lot of ways; accordingly, Van Draanen inserts setbacks with narrative precision, the most affecting of which (surprisingly) is the insurance battle that Jessica's parents face. Overall, though, this is a tremendously upbeat book, with Jessica's family, friends, and community coming together (the track team raises funds to buy Jessica a $20,000 running leg). Even a subplot involving Jessica's friendship with the cerebral palsy-afflicted Rosa is not as treacly as it could have been. Van Draanen's extensive research into both running and amputees pays dividends readers will truly feel what it's like to walk (or run) a mile (or 10) in Jessica's shoes.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist