Book Review - The Art of Racing in the Rain

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Since I recently started a list on Goodreads, I thought it might be fun to add book reviews to the blog. My aunt had told me about the site a few months ago and I was amazed at how many of my friends were already on there. I started adding books left and right and ended up with a pretty lengthy list.

I actually started reading from the list a couple months ago so I figured I would kick off the reviews with a book I have already read. I'm only on the third one so I won't have to do a lot of backtracking. All of the posts from here on out will be current.

Since I am too lazy to summarize the books myself, the summaries will be taken directly from Goodreads. I started to type up my own summary only to feel like I was back in middle school, writing a book report, trying to word every sentence perfectly, with correct formatting and supporting quotes, and write in such a way that somehow inspired others to read the book too. I do not have time for "homework" such as this on top of everything else I do, so needless to say, I hope you enjoy the Goodreads version. If you have a problem with it, well then scroll down as fast as you can until you reach the review section.

Book #1 - The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

[image source: Goodreads]

A friend recommended this one to me and the moment I checked the book out from the library, I knew it was going to be good. I mean, there's an adorable dog on the front cover, what's not to love?

Summary (source)
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, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pull 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 Zoë 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 only a dog could tell it.

My Review
What I Loved
1. The fact that the book is narrated by a dog. How cool is that? To write an entire book from the perspective of a pet. And not just any pet, an incredibly intelligent, caring, and funny one. It also made me realize though, that your dog sees pretty much everything you do. Which kind of freaked me out. Those late night trips I made to the fridge for six scoops of ice cream with triple hot fudge and every piece of candy in the pantry on top? The ones I thought no one would ever know about? Yea, he sees it all. And secretly judges me.

2. I thought that Enzo really showed insight into a world where simple communication isn't an option. It may be strange, but to me, it made me think a lot about people who are deaf or blind or have other disabilities that make communication more challenging. To understand his struggles made me sad and opened my eyes to see what it might be like for people who lack certain abilities.

3. Enzo is also incredibly wise and philosophical. For me, I've always felt my dogs had a wise old soul and this book definitely made that come to life. It was certainly a story that made me think. I really enjoyed Enzo's commentary and his thought process about everything that was going on around him.

4. "Your car goes where your eyes go."

5. I bawled at the end - which to me, means it was good.

What I Didn't Love
1. I'm really, really not into Formula One racing or cars at all for that matter. I thought the way it was used as a metaphor for life was clever but I just don't get the point. As an environmentalist, when they were describing Denny's races, all I could think about was how much gas they were wasting and how someone might get hurt. I couldn't really get into the thrill of those parts like some people reading probably could. Of course, DOGS on the other hand, I am totally into, so when Enzo got to ride, I was definitely excited!

2. I wanted more details about the humans in the story. Denny's character was very well developed since he was Enzo's owner, but everyone else was kind of vague. I guess that was kind of the point though, since it was written from the dog's perspective. You only know what Enzo knows. I just found it frustrating at times and I wanted to know a little bit more about them.

4 out of 5 stars

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