Goodness. Gracious. Sakes. ALIVE.
Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain is a genius work of fiction that will leave you falling face down on your couch, clutching your pillow for emotional support.
Really, I should have known the second I picked up a dog book, but still I read on.
Stein’s story takes us through the eyes and life of the young, opinionated shepherd-poodle-terrier mix, Enzo. Enzo begins his life on a farm, but is quickly adopted by the semi-professional race car driver, Denny. Told from Enzo’s first person narrative, we get to witness the beautiful “man’s-best-friend” relationship between Enzo and Denny. They play together, confide in one another, and even watch racing footage alongside each other.
We see years pass and relationships change as Denny gets married, has a child, and Enzo rediscovers his role in his new family unit. Enzo is exceptionally bright for a dog. He often watches documentaries during his free time and observes the day to day interaction between Denny, Eve, and Zoe.
One day, Enzo notices a particularly bad smell (that only he can smell) inside of Denny’s wife, Eve, and from this point on we begin to brace ourselves for the worst. It becomes a difficult read from here as life gets harder and harder for Denny and his family and we’re strung along for the emotional ride.
“That which we manifest is before us.”
This incredibly brilliant dog gives us better insight into the human soul than any other human can. While the story is a heavier read, it’s also an encouraging message of resilience and perseverance. Of choosing to press on in the face of what may feel like total defeat.
“That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”
Stein’s book was extremely well-written and contained beautiful language, imagery, and insight. It’s the kind of book you have to read actively. The kind of book that makes you think twice about where you’re at in your own life and if you’re living it right. My only complaint about the book is that because Enzo was remarkably insightful and knowledgeable, it sort of made him unbelievable as a dog. If he had toned it down just a hair, it would have been just perfect, but this leads me to have to rate The Art of Racing in the Rain a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
A great read. Go get it and turn some pages, kids.