The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Garth Stein
If there is one book you read this month or year, it should be this book. I realize that this is a strong statement. I’ve reviewed and strongly recommended other books to you throughout the past few months, but this book has touched the deepest corners of my heart. If you’ve ever loved a pet or ever met an animal that seemed to possess an unusual amount of wisdom and humanity, then you will connect with this book.
I passed this book numerous times at the book store, but never picked it up. First of all, the narrator is a dog, Enzo. That seemed a little bizarre to me and while I enjoyed Marley & Me, I guess I expected a carbon copy of that novel. I couldn’t be more wrong. There are elements that compare to Marley – the strength of love and companionship between man and dog, but Enzo tells the story of his family’s joys and pain, weaknesses and strengths. He loves them and studies them on a desperate quest to understand humanity, because he believes that in his next life, he will become a man. And he wants to represent the best of mankind.
Life is compared to car racing in this book, as Enzo’s owner – Denny – is a talented racer. What Enzo learns through his and Denny’s shared love of racing applies to life. One particular statement made by a driver becomes a major theme of the novel: “That which you manifest is before you.” It is a lesson in racing and a lesson in life. There is a beauty in the analogy and in the writing itself. Enzo’s perception of humanity is astute, unbiased, and profound, as only a bystander’s could be. The book is a lesson in living. We could all learn from Enzo.
Anyone who has ever owned a pet has probably had an Enzo in his life. For example, I’ve had many cats and dogs throughout my life, but it is my current cat, George, who most reminds me of Enzo. He possesses an intelligence and human understanding that I’ve never witnessed before. Like Enzo, he is almost human. Also like Enzo, he has been my best friend, confidante, and companion through the best and worst times of my life. He was my shoulder to cry on during my husband’s two deployments. He is over twelve years old now, but he is as perceptive and loving as ever. I would like to believe, as Enzo believes, that he has lived long enough as a cat and will become human in his next life. Of course, George probably expects to be reborn as royalty as he is a bit more arrogant than the sweet Enzo.
Please, read this book. Even if you aren’t an animal lover, you will learn something about life and living.
But, don’t be surprised if you need a box of tissues nearby. It is a beautiful story, but every story about real life will have some tragedy, as well as humor.
And if you love it as much as I did, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
The author discusses his book: