By: Wendelin VanDraanen
Jessica is a sixteen year old high school track star, running is her life. She discovered her passion for running while she was running on the soccer field in third grade. Returning from a high school track meet Jessica's school bus is involved in an accident. Lucy a fellow track team member is killed and Jessica loses her leg.
Jessica's recovery is slow and painful but her doctor's are optimistic and tell her she is healing well and can soon be fitted for her first prosthetic limb. This should be happy news but Jessica constantly struggles with the fact that she will never run again. She just wants her normal life back.
While she is waiting for her prosthetic leg to be made Jessica returns to school in a wheelchair. Since there is no room for her wheelchair at her desk in math class she is placed in the back of the class at a table next to Rosa, who is also in a wheelchair. Rosa was born with cerebral palsy and will never walk. Jessica and her friends never paid any attention to Rosa they just saw Rosa as the girl in a wheelchair with a disability. Jessica needed help with math and it turned out that Rosa is a genius at math and offers to tutor Jessica. The two girls become friends and Rosa gives Jessica encouragement especially when she is feeling down about not being able to run. Rosa tells Jessica that she used to sit out on her front porch on Saturday mornings just to watch Jessica run by, wondering how it would feel to be able to run and cross a finish line.
Jessica's track coach tells her about a special running leg that would enable her to run and rejoin the track team next fall, the only problem is the running leg costs $20,000.00, and her insurance will not cover it. Her track team decides to try to raise the money by doing community events. Gavin a reporter from the school newspaper, decides to do a special interest story about Jessica and sends a copy to the local television station. The television station decides to air a story about Jessica and the fund raising efforts of the track team. Soon the whole town is aware of Jessica's situation and donations start pouring in. An anonymous donor offers to match whatever the track team has raised and in a short time Jessica has her running leg!
Jessica starts running and decides to train for the River Run ten mile race, the local town race. As she is training she realizes just about everyone in town knows her because of her disability, and not for the person she is. She now knows how Rosa has felt all her life. Jessica decides that she is going to run the race pushing Rosa in her wheelchair not only so that she can experience running a race and crossing a finish line, more importantly to make people see Rosa the person, not her condition.
Jessica and Rosa cross the finish line a victory for both and a new beginning for Jessica.
Although the ending was very predictable, the story kept my interest.