Title/Author: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Publisher/Year: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (2009)
How I got this book: I bought it at Barnes & Noble
Why I read this book: I researched many books for a school project. I had to find a novel that fit in the literary fiction genre, read it, and present about it. I found this one to read and once I got a couple chapters in, the reading became more than just a school assignment.
Synopsis: Enzo is a philosophically inclined and intelligent dog who wants to be a man when he dies and is reincarnated. He lives with Denny, the best race car driver that ever lived - in Enzo's opinion. This book recounts the life of Enzo, including the highlights and the horrible. Enzo can teach us humans a thing or two about being a human through his experiences as a dog and through his shared wisdom about race car driving.
My thoughts: This book made me cry at the end! I saw it coming for a couple of chapters, but I was so emotionally attached to Enzo that I cried my eyes out for the last 20 pages or so. I couldn't stop crying until I fell asleep. It was sad and wonderful and beautiful all at the same time.
Enzo is such a reliable narrator despite being a dog. He knows so much about how we operate and how we view the world. His greatest wish is to become a human in his next life. He lives with Denny, who eventually marries Eve and has a wonderful daughter Zoe. They are happy together, but through a horrible series of events, Denny must fight for his family.
Although this would technically be classified as Literary Fiction, it is not hard to read or understand. Enzo provides us with his knowledge in a clear and open way. He teaches us how to be better humans through his observations of Denny and his interactions with others as well as the knowledge he has gained from his experience with race cars. I would recommend this novel to an older audience because of some of the language used and a little bit of sexual content (like two or three lines).
The plot of the novel is a little slow at times, although it picks up drastically in the middle of the book. The language used by Stein is simple and beautiful. It sounds at times as though the narrator is not a dog but some kind of a yogi-race car driver mix. The end offers many pieces of advice about racing in the rain and living your life as a better human. You'll have to read the book, which does not take very long (unless you have tons of homework...), to find out why I became so attached to Enzo and why the ending is a true tear-jerker. You will become so attached to Enzo that you will think about him long after you read this book. He is unforgettable in my opinion. The plot twists will make you cry, get angry, yell, laugh out loud, and smile. If you actually invest your time in reading this book and don't cry at the end, something is wrong...
Rating: 5 stars
*Note: This post will also appear on my personal blog at: Man and Dog