Monday, April 28, 2008

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I need a dog. Since Sandy died last year, I find myself never wanting to be home. In many ways I am over the loss of her, but my house still seems so empty without her. You know, my reading has not really recovered from that month. I read very little at the end of the year and it has not improved since. I am not sure if that is because of not really being over Sandy, or if it is because I never want to be at my house, so I do not sit around and read anymore. It is very hard to say. All I know is that reading this book just made me sad. I have always had a dog. There has never been a moment in my life where I didn't have one, so I really notice the difference.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television and by listening closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming racecar driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t just about going fast. Using the techniques of the race track, dogs—and human beings—can learn to navigate life’s hairpin turns.
On the night before his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle for custody of their daughter, Zoë. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.
A poignant love story and a moving tale of redemption, The Art of Racing in the Rain—for which rights have been sold around the world—is an unconventional, captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could see them.
I really liked this book. A book narrated by a dog can be a bit tricky, but this one was done in such a way that it did not seem like a fairy tale. It really seemed like I was inside Enzo's head. I used to look at my dogs and wonder what they were thinking, and it would be nice to think that they had intelligent thoughts like Enzo did. Whether or not they did or not, though, is hard to say. All I know is that Enzo gives a canine interpretation on the life of his family, and he does it very well. As Sara Gruen says on the front cover: "The Art of Racing in the Rain has everything: love, tragedy, redemption, danger and-best of all-the canine narrator, Enzo." I totally agree with this.

On the night before Enzo goes to the vet for the very last time, he tells his story. By telling his story, he tells the story of the family that raised him from a puppy. He goes back that far to, to the days when his owner was single to when he has a family to raise and Enzo is getting older. Denny lives a rough life during this book, and Enzo is there for all of it. If Denny had told the same story, I am not sure I would have liked this book that much, but Enzo is a very good narrator. He wants nothing more than to come back in his next life as a man, and so, as a result, he is obsessed with the human world. I am jealous, he even got to go in a race car! I am a human and I haven't even had that chance!

The title comes from the fact that Denny is an aspiring racecar driver, so Enzo has grown up around race tracks and racing cars. Denny does not always have the best luck, having suffered through the loss of his wife and a custody battle for his daughter, but he knows how to keep going. Enzo helps, of course. I loved the end of this book. It was the perfect way to end it, and I found myself sitting there with the last page open for a while afterwards considering how perfect it was. If you ever wanted a dogs-eye view of the world, this is the book for you. I love dogs, that is why I picked it up, but it is more than a dogs story. You will be glad that you read that this book. I know that I am, and these are not my usual type of novels.

To learn more about this book, click here. My thanks to Harper Collins for the Advanced Reading Copy!


  1. I just added this to my wish list. It sounds wonderful!

  2. It sounds like a wonderful book but there's just no way I'm up for reading it. Not now, any way.

    Maybe you need to listen to that voice that's telling you it's time to enrich your life with another four-footed soul. My suggestion - go the your local shelter and see what happens. I'm a firm believer in the idea that the dog you should have will come into your life when you need him/her the most.


  3. I'm so sorry about your dog. It took me six months of grieving over my sheltie Hoochie before I even thought about getting another dog. Now I have Robbie. He's about 9 years old and has slowed down, so now I'm worried about him. I think he'll be around for a few years though, I hope so!

    I thought about taking this arc, but at the time, I already requested 5. I didn't wnat to take to many at a time. If I finish a few more arcs this month, then I may still request it, if it's still available. Otherwise it will go on my TBR.

  4. Wow! Great review. I'm definitely going to have to read this. I've also heard through the grapevine that this is going to be Starbucks' new book. Sounds like a good pick on their behalf!

  5. I want this book so badly! Perfect for all us dog lovers!

  6. Anonymous4:41 PM

    I have been crying for a half hour after fininshing this book about Enzo. It is truly a lovely story about challenges, hope, love, and determination and how the dog (who is more like a wise old person) is so full of goodness, truth and love. I find myself looking at my dog and wondering what she is thinking.

  7. Just googled the book and came across your review. It really was a great read for me as well. I just saw that the author started a google site so I am anxious to see what he has to say!


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