image holder

The Art of Racing in the Rain; Garth Stein

Book review by Kristy Webster | published Friday, December 13, 2013 |
Thursday Review Contributor

I don't understand why people insist on pitting concepts of evolution and creation against each other. Why can't they see that spiritualism and science are one? That bodies evolve and souls evolve and the universe is a fluid package that marries them both in a wonderful package called a human being. What's wrong with that idea?

Although I’m a huge dog lover, I didn’t jump at the chance to read The Art of Racing in the Rain, namely because it was narrated by a dog. Honestly, I was expecting something cheesy, something too cutesy and obvious. What I discovered instead was a book that quickly made it into my top ten favorite books of all time.

Enzo, a dog of mixed breed knows he has very little time left, but he is not sad. In fact, he spends his last night reminiscing over the complex, tragic yet beautiful life he’s lived alongside his owner, his best friend Denny and Denny’s daughter, Zoe. Enzo shares Denny’s love for speed, for race car driving. Being a native of Seattle, Denny has mastered the “art of racing in the rain,” a skill that sets him apart from other racers. A favorite past-time for Enzo is watching tapes of Denny’s former races. Racing is interwoven through the Denny and Enzo’s story, as a sort of metaphor for how they both approach and maneuver through extreme challenges.

Enzo has been everything to Denny and his family; protector, confidant, therapist, and above all, faithful companion. Enzo’s loyalty to Denny withstands the worst of tribulations and losses that will experience.

Don’t worry; this is not a book about a talking dog. In fact, Enzo often struggles deeply with his inability to communicate through human speech and his lack of opposable thumbs. Enzo approaches the end of his life with the dream of becoming what he’s always dreamed...a man:

When I return to the world, I will be a man. I will walk among you. I will lick my lips with my small, dexterous tongue. I will shake hands with other men, grasping firmly with my opposable thumbs. And I will teach all people that I know. And when I see a man or a woman or a child in trouble, I will extend my hand, both metaphorically and physically. I will offer my hand. To him. To her. To you. To the world. I will be a good citizen, a good partner in the endeavor of life that we all share.

You do not need to be a dog lover to fall in love with Enzo and with Garth Stein’s beautifully empathetic novel. You only need to have a yearning for an insight into the human condition through the eyes of a being so wonderfully naïve that he is marvelously wise. Whatever pain or sadness is endured, the culmination of their journey is absolutely transcendent and breathtaking. Don’t miss out on this profound and touching story.