The Running Dream: A Story of Transformation


Della Phillips

Shattered. That’s how Jessica Carlyle feels after the tragic accident that took her leg and the life of one of her track teammates.

The doctors told her she would be able to walk again with a prosthetic limb, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Jessica is a runner. In her mind, if she can’t run, her life is over. These feelings of defeat and depression at the beginning of the book are realistic, but so is the encouragement of each little victory.

The turning point comes when Jessica learns of a special prosthetic leg that is designed for running. It comes with challenges and a price tag, but she finally has hope that she might achieve the impossible and run again.

It’s a powerful story of transformation in two senses. The first is Jessica’s recovery and learning to run again despite enormous obstacles. The second occurs when Jessica gets to know Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy.

Rosa is a wheelchair user who sits in the back of Jessica’s math class. Before the accident, Jessica never looked twice at Rosa. She saw her as the disabled student, nothing more — something that never would have changed had Jessica not been forced into a similar situation as her. Soon, she and Rosa begin passing notes, and Jessica gets a glimpse at who Rosa really is: a person who has her own unique, philosophical take on the world. She is also exceptionally smart (taking pre-calc in her freshman year!)

The connection with someone whom most people might overlook is so powerful; I know that from personal experience. Jessica’s new insight into Rosa’s world serves as a reminder that everyone is a person, regardless of how they look, and is worth the effort to get to know.

Every beat of the story reflects the theme of transformation. The pain and despair during the first few chapters of the book is such a stark contrast to the last few, where Jessica finds new resilience and light. Her life after the accident is different, but it expands her world.

I hope that The Running Dream can do the same for anyone who reads it, too. You will come away inspired, with a renewed faith in humanity, and the strength to not only cross new finish lines, but to bring others with you.