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Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

Author: Garth Stein
Published: 2008
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 321
My Rating: 5

Summary from
     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. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.
     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.

     If you like dogs, you will love this book. If you are looking for something that will touch your heart, you will love this book. If you are just looking for a novel so excellent and amazing that you won't be able to put it down, you will love this book. There really is no other way to start this review except by saying that I absolutely loved this book. (did I get that point across yet?)
     The Art of Racing in the Rain begins off unique in its own right as it is told from the point of view of a dog. Yes, the narrator is a dog named Enzo. If that isn't original and thought-provoking right there then I don't know what is. Enzo knows that he is different from other dogs as he is philosophical, smart, and has the exact personality that I would hope a wonderful animal would have. 

     From the beginning we are aware that Enzo is recalling his life's story on the eve of his death. Need tissues within the first 5 pages? This could be trouble. But he even though you know what will eventually happen, this book provides all the peaks and valleys of real life and ends with a sense of hope. So, wipe the tears away and keep reading!

     He spends the story talking about his family, race car driver Denny, his wife Eve, and their daughter Zoe, and reflects on their lives and what is happening with all of them. He loves his master Denny and is infatuated with racing and watching race videos with him. He talks a lot about different racers and their techniques, which could be really boring for someone who is not a NASCAR, etc. fan at all, but Enzo is that awesome that it's not boring at all. He explains different racing terms and procedures in extreme detail, but it relates to whatever the family is dealing with or going through at that time, which gets you thinking deeply and philosophically. The lessons of racing become the lessons of life. 

     Throughout the family's ups and downs, Enzo teaches us about the nature of humans, family, love, loyalty, and togetherness. He sees things in a dog-way and his innocence helps hard life topics seem somewhat straightforward and simple. I especially loved his complaints of being a dog- his lack of thumbs, stuffed animals taunting him, not wanting to be an overly obnoxious beggar while the family is eating dinner. Dog stuff. (He is a dog, after all.)

     Overall, this book will get you thinking and will make you fall in love with Enzo. If you have your own dog, I'm sure you will begin to look at it a little differently and wonder if it thinks the same as Enzo. If you don't have one, you will want one when you are done reading. Because it has so many, I will end my review with a quote from the book:

     "There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose."

-Busy Brunette


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