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: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. 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 Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.
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 life…as only a dog could tell it.
I read The Art of Racing in the Rain in almost one evening. I say almost, because I was on page 20 something when I picked it up on election night and proceeded to finish it in one sitting (well, with a few interruptions to hit refresh on the computer to see what was happening with the election…I do come out of my book bubble occasionally). By the end of the book I had laughed out loud many times, and shed quite a few tears. I dare you (no…in honor of Enzo, I double dog dare you) to read this book without falling in love with Enzo. He’s funny and smart and wise. However, lest you think he would be the perfect guy, he does watch too much tv. And he’s got a thing for racing videos.
You can’t have my copy, though, because Garth Stein signed it at the Book Group Expo. The title page now sports this warning: ”Beware the zebra!” Which does have relevance to Enzo’s story…you’ll just have to read the book to find out why.