Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

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. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoƫ at his side.

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. [Source]
I borrowed this book from the library and read it because it was highly recommended by several colleagues of mine. There are several of us that all trade books often, and I trust them when they say that I'll enjoy a book. I was told that this particular book is both funny and sad. Funny, I like. But I can't handle sad. I don't like crying over books. In the end, I decided that it was more amusing than funny, and more aggravating than sad. But I don't want to give away the ending.

Quick summary: Enzo is the narrator of this story, and he is a dog. He has a great owner, but he's not too keen on his owner's love interest. Until they make a baby, that is. Enzo becomes the baby's protector, but there is only so much he can when he is not allowed to follow her everywhere she goes. And there is the impending end; dogs don't live forever. It's up to Enzo to keep his owner true to himself, and to help him fight for what's right.

Age recommendation: 17+

Yea, I loved this book. Enzo is SUCH a lovable character, despite the fact that he's a dog. I think he is so lovable because he's a dog. I liked seeing life through his eyes, experiencing life in a dog's body. And it's a very honest book view. Enzo doesn't sugarcoat life or shy away from embarrassing topics. His perspective is refreshing; it's one that more people should adopt. It's a shame that the other characters in this book aren't more like Enzo. They are more like real people - pushy, greedy Americans who refuse to see that their way isn't necessarily the best way. That part aggravated me to no end.

The only part that I didn't like about this book is the constant racing analogies. Enzo's owner is a car racer, so Enzo is a racing aficionado, so to speak. Throughout the book, he relates life to racing. At first, it was clever and amusing, but after several chapters, I got sick of it. I couldn't keep up with the racing lingo, and I had to resort to skimming the pages to get to the end of the wordy comparisons. I would have finished the book a lot faster if I hadn't been struggling to understand every other chapter.



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