The Art of Racing in the Rain

For one of my break books, I chose The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

It’s been on my “to read” list for awhile now. There was a Kindle Daily Deal or something awhile back and the book was only 4 dollars, so I figured I might as well buy it. Since then, it’s been sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read. Even before that, though, I’d been meaning to read it.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a book about life, accepting and enduring hardship, and saying goodbye. Also, it’s narrated by a dog. An intelligent, humanlike, philosophical dog named Enzo.

Enzo lives with his master, Denny, a semipro racecar driver, and Denny’s wife, Eve, and his daughter, Zoe. The family, especially Denny, goes through incredible hardships. Enzo observes all of them and offers his reflections and ideas. Usually Enzo’s thoughts have a philosophical twist connected to what he has learned through years of watching video tapes of races.

Racing, it seems, can be very philosophical. Enzo often observes what is happening to the family and recalls things he has learned from watching races. If he could talk, he would advise Denny to “steer into the skid” or to keep his eyes on the road in front of him. Enzo is often frustrated that he can’t talk, that he can’t fully participate in human life and communicate with his family. He dreams of the day that he dies, when he can be reborn as a human.

At times, The Art of Racing in the Rain seems a little convoluted. Of course, it’s about a talking dog, so I suppose that’s to be expected. However, it seems like Stein tortures Denny just a bit too much. So many terrible things happen to him that at a certain point, I couldn’t really feel sympathy – it just felt like Stein was making his character suffer so that Enzo could prove a point. The entire Annika situation took the book in a strange direction that I didn’t quite agree with.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the book. I like books that get philosophical through metaphors like racing (or any other sports, really). It was also a really nice change of pace from what I’ve been reading.

I will issue a warning though: this book is pretty damn sad. I won’t spoil anything, I’ll just say that it’s a book about a dog. And what happens in basically every. single. dog book. ever? Yeah….

Rating: ****


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