Thursday, April 1, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: "The Art of Racing in the Rain"

The Art of Racing in the Rain
By Garth Stein
Copyright 2008
HarperCollins Publishers
Adult Fiction

Okay, let me just start out by saying that this is THE best book that I have read in a very, very long time. If you are looking for a great bookclub book, this is it. If you are looking for a great feel-good book, this is it. If you are looking for a story that will tug at your heartstrings, this is it. If you are looking for a book that will make you look at life differently, guess what? This is it.

That last one is the most important to me, as a reader. I like books that make me think and make me step back and look at my life from a different perspective. The Art of Racing in the Rain was the right book to accomplish that.

The author, Garth Stein, is obviously a dog person. You know, one of those people who view their dog as an equal member of the family. And thus we meet Enzo, the main character and narrator of the novel. Enzo introduces himself by explaining to us mere humans why he behaves as he does. The book begins with, "Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature." Enzo goes on to explain that he feels somewhat trapped in his life as a dog and hopes to one day die and come back as a human. Enzo becomes almost human to the reader from the very first page of the book. He becomes a friend, a neighbor, the watchful eye that sees all. I am not a dog person (not a dog person AT ALL, actually), but even I could truly appreciate the role that Enzo fills in this novel.

But this story is not really about Enzo. It's about a man, Denny Swift, semi-professional race car driver, his wife Eve, and their daughter Zoe. It's about Enzo's relationship with this family. It's about what happens when life takes an unexpected turn, and then another, and then another. It's about how we survive as human beings when the worst imaginable things come flying at us from nowhere.

A simple philosophy that Denny shares with Enzo early on rings true through much of the book. "That which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny." It is through this simple philosophy that, somehow, Denny survives the rain that life pours down upon him. He takes the turns with a gentle hand and slides back into the race.
This book will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It will make you angry and it will make you feel love. It is poignant and profound, and yet the subtle way Stein weaves the emotion in and out of the story seems simple and natural.

This was a truly good read, and a book that I highly recommend you add to your reading list!

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