June 12th, 2014

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

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

Nearing the end of his life, Enzo is hopeful that in his next life, he’ll reborn as a human. After all, he’s different from other dogs. In preparation for this, he has taken a great deal of care to educate himself on the way humans live, by watching TV and listening to the way that the members of his human family communicate. As Enzo reflects over his life and the tragedies that befell Denny after the loss of his wife Eve, he decides that he is ready to move on, even though it will pain his master to lose his best friend.

I’m not a dog person, but I really enjoy Enzo. Enzo is an entertaining narrator. Despite his best efforts, he can’t escape his essential doggy nature, and this colors every aspect of the story. But Enzo is also a philosopher, a dog who has spent his entire life meditating on what it is to be human. He deeply believes in a Mongolian legend he once heard that claimed a dog that is prepared will be born as a human in its next life. It’s shaped his way of thinking and making decisions. Enzo’s affection and loyalty to Denny is utterly heart-warming.

The sweetness of Enzo is needed, because Denny’s life totally sucks. First, his wife gets brain cancer, and dies after several horrible months. Then her parents, who have never liked Denny, start a custody battle for Denny’s daughter. She’s taken away, and Denny is charged with a crime that he didn’t commit. As his life spirals out of control, and every cent he owns goes to trying to get his daughter back, Denny needs Enzo at his side.

Denny drives race cars for a living, and his love of the sport permeates every page. His philosophy about racing has deeply influenced Enzo, too, and the dog frequently spouts little truisms he’s picked up from his master. It’s cute, and really ties the story together.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. I don’t like dogs, for one; for two, I’m really not interested in cars or racing. Yet Stein is such a great writer that he makes both dogs and racing and custody battles absolutely riveting. I could not put this book down.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Art of Racing in the Rain, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: Short-Tempered Melancholic and Other Stores by Arina Tanemura
2012: The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while…
2010: Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same by Mattox Roesch
2009: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe