Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the RainThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! Initially, the first person narration by Enzo, a philosophical dog, was a bit off putting but then the uniqueness took hold and pulled me in. Enzo is a human soul trapped in a dog body, at least that’s how he feels. He has learned about a variety of topics, including reincarnation, by watching documentaries on TV. Dogs who have prepared themselves for human life come back as people after they die. Enzo holds out hope that when he dies, his soul will finally be matched to a human body. He is ready.

Enzo tells the story of his owner Denny, a race car driver struggling to make a career of it, and sets events into a racing context. Enzo is a race fan and thanks to Denny talking to him about driving and race strategies, Enzo knows quite a lot about the sport and the world in general.

Enzo chronicles Denny’s courtship and short-lived marriage to Eve and the birth of their daughter, Zoe. When Eve becomes sick, her parents step in and that’s where Denny’s troubles really begin. After Eve passes away, her parents, who never liked Denny, are determined to take custody of Zoe and they pit their considerable wealth and resources against the grieving and financial struggling widower, even drumming up false criminal accusations against him.

Eve’s parents are despicable people and the sad thing is that while they’re obviously fictional characters, there are plenty of real people like this in the world.

Enzo is a fascinating narrator, alternating between a Zen-like outlook on life to childlike wistful wishes to someday be able to race a car to the more mundane desire to have thumbs.

This is a story about loyalty, endurance, and dreams and Enzo is one of the most memorable narrators (and characters) I’ve read. This is a must-read.

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