Thursday, March 10, 2016

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

Enzo is the kind of perfect dog I would love to have as a companion - and I say that knowing full well that I am a cat person, not a dog person.  Enzo has grown up with Denny, and knows and loves him like no other.  He has seen Denny go off to races where he is a semiprofessional race car driver, get married to Eve and welcome little Zoe home.  Enzo understands humans, and cannot wait to live out this life so that he can come back as a human in the next.  But Enzo becomes witness to some terrible things that happen in Denny's life... and his thoughts and observations about human nature at its best (and worst) are well worth reading.

I have been curious about this book for a very long time, and put it on my TBR list some time ago.  Then the book club chose this as a book to read this year (we'll meet on it next week actually) and I was thrilled!  I'm very curious to see what the others thought about it... but here's my take:

I'll tell you, I was well prepared with the tissues.  All I had heard about it was that it was a great book and very very sad.  While it's true that there are some very sad events that happen, I didn't need the tissues.  It wasn't like that.  Somehow, while acknowledging that I would be sad once or twice in the book - what happened in between those events made me so very angry that I wanted to yell at someone!  Namely, two characters in the book - Denny's in laws.  I don't remember the last time I was this angry at fictional characters!  So, yeah, that happened.  But I love when a book can get me all riled up.

The writing itself is very accessible, and the generally short chapters help make this a very quick read.  I do love the character of Enzo and how human he is, while also making comments that remind us that he is, in fact, a dog.  It is all pretty cleverly done.  Enzo is fairly philosophical at times as well, mostly about human nature, and he's basically spot on.  One quote that caught my attention:

"The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles - preferably of his own making - in order to triumph." (p. 135)
Pretty accurate, right?

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
Harper, 2008.
321 pages
Source:  gift


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