Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Here is a summary of the book from the Garth Stein's website:

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 extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

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 over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. 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.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human only a dog could tell it.

My Review:
I absolutely loved this book that gives a glimpse into Enzo's world as he reflects upon his life with his family.  Enzo starts his story when his master Denny first picks him out of a litter of pups to go and live with him.  We go through the ups and downs of both Enzo's and Denny's lives as he goes through his personal memories.

Enzo and Denny start out as quite a carefree pair, as Denny is a bachelor that only has Enzo to care for.  Enzo watches things change quickly as Eve enters the picture and he sees the two of them fall in love.  Enzo is a smart dog though, so even though he is a bit jealous, he also sees how happy Denny is with her.  Enzo accepts Eve into their family but doesn't allow himself to get too close to her for quite some time.

Just when Enzo thinks that he is now accustomed to this new life with Eve, they bring home Zoe, an addition to the family!  Zoe's innocence is apparent to Enzo so he easily welcomes her into their home and is eager to become her playmate.

When the family is burdened by a crisis many members of the family turn to Enzo for comfort and strength.  Enzo takes care of his family in the best way that he can.  He watches them all struggle in their own ways and each of them tells him things that they wouldn't tell anyone else.  He really becomes a keeper of secrets and if only he could talk he would share his words of wisdom with them all.

One of my favorite parts of the book was that Enzo really believed that he would come back as a man after he passed away.  After watching a documentary on television he believed this is what happened to exceptional dogs, if they were ready for the challenge.  Of course, since Enzo believed that he already thought like a human it was only obvious that he would become one.

I just discussed this book with my book club a couple of weeks ago and we all absolutely loved it!  It made for a great discussion and it was even an added bonus that we had a new puppy in our household to help us get in the mood for the story!  With themes of love, honor, family, and dogs of course, this book has something to offer for various types of readers.  I highly recommend this novel for leisure reading or a book club discussion.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This book was from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.


bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too! I just know our dog thinks like that too!

Jenny Girl said...

I have this book on my shelf and keep meaning to pick it up. Thanks for the reminder with the fantastic review.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I have this on my Nook after so many friends recommended it. I'll have to be sure to get to it soon.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I so LOVED this book as well; Enzo spoke to me. It's like;y I'll reread this one sometime. The audio was excellent.

If you liked this book, I HIGHLY recommend, I Thought You Were Dead; Nelson - it's even better, if that is at all possible. I loved that audio as well from the viewpoint of Stella (the dog).

Kaye said...

This was a great book although I could have done with a little less racing talk. Just say the name Enzo and I think "thumbs". Glad you enjoyed the book so much.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I listened to this audio and LOVED it as well!

Anna said...

I'm always afraid to read animal stories because they tend to make me cry in the end, but Serena keeps telling me I must read this book, and now I see that you really loved it. I'll have to dig out my copy.

France said...

An amazingly wonderful novel from what could have been a cliche pet story. Enzo is both funny and insightful, a richly developed character who is wise beyond his years - both dog and human. The humanity is the book is some of the most truthful writing I have read recently. I would recommend this short, but engaging read to anyone looking to face their own twists and turns in the race we call "life."