The Art of Racing in the Rain

(This book is part of my personal library)

Book's Author: Garth Stein

Genre: General Fiction

Rating: Five Paws

Synopsis:

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 life...as only a dog could tell it.

***

I knew the moment I read the back of the book that I shouldn't have read it. Not because it sounded bad, it sounded great, honestly; but because I knew that a story about a dog was a bad choice, being the dog lover I am and being aware of the trend with dog-related stories.

Anyway, I decided against my better judgment that I was going to read this book about this dog named Enzo and his journey with his owner, Denny, who loves to race. The book is told from Enzo's point of view, a very cute and engaging spin on the normal dog's life stories. The book starts at the end of the story, so you know where it's all going, then skips back tot he beginning to explain how it got to that point.

Have you seen the movie Marley & Me? Yeah. Heartbreaking. The Art of Racing in the Rain hit me in every feel my tiny 5'4" body housed, and then crushed them one more time for good measure. There were days after I finished the book where I just longed to hear little Enzo's philosophical voice in my head again. I couldn't read anything else; it hurt that bad. But it hurt in a way that was endearing. I knew it would hurt, and still I did it because I love dogs and I just had to know: was his life good? Did Denny love him? Why is he racing in the rain? I think that was the authors intention, to hook us, and crush us, and prevent us from being mad at them all at the same time. And boy, they sure did that.

Even though it was sad towards the end, and admittedly the middle but for different reasons, the book had plenty of happy moments, too. After all, Enzo is a dog, and dogs are, if treated right, the seemingly happiest creatures on the planet; and Enzo is treated more than right. The humor, too, was perfectly timed, delivered with an expert style, and actually funny, something that you're hard-pressed to find lately.

The book was written in a way that was easy to understand, while keeping the unique point of view of Enzo. Their spin on the thoughts dogs have was enthralling and constant. Enzo's inner monologue was all a human's would sound like and more. It was funny, happy, anger-inducing, uplifting, and, inevitably, crushing, but in a way that was almost good. The book was good; brilliant even. Plus, a dog is telling it. Could it get any better?

I rated the book five paws, and given the chance to rate it higher I would. Even though it was sad, it was a book I highly recommend to those of you who like to read books that make you feel. Because it makes you feel. Everything. Any emotion you can think of, it's there. If that doesn't make a book worth reading, I'm not sure what does.

-T

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