The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein (Adult Fiction)
Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And while I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively.
Enzo is just one of many mixed-breed pups (although he’s quite sure that his father was a terrier) living on a little farm in Spangle, Washington. When Dennis “Denny” Swift sees him, he knows immediately that his heart will never again be his own. “This one,” Denny states without a moment’s hesitation. So begins a life that will include marriage, a child, some ups, more downs, but most of all, it will have racing. Lots and lots of racing.
It isn’t often that you come across a book that allows you to view the world from a wonderfully unique perspective. Seeing the world through the eyes of an aging Labrador-terrier mix was a delight and made for an unforgettable journey. Enzo introduces us to his master, Denny, a semi-professional racecar driver whose natural talent behind the wheel is offset only by the misfortunes that seem to tail him at every one of life’s turns. We also meet Eve, the woman Denny falls in love with and marries, and Zoë, Denny and Eve’s daughter. Like all families, there is a mixture of good times and bad, only with this family, we are able to see their story unfold through a very special and astute lens.
Hailing from NASCAR country, I was familiar with most of the racing jargon that Garth uses throughout his book. However, he goes the extra mile to ensure that non-racing enthusiasts will not only understand the terminology, but may also gain an appreciation for the sport and the talent and grit demanded of its drivers. Several laugh-out-loud moments coupled with some tear-filled scenes balance out the racing sequences nicely to ensure that our story keeps moving along at a nice, smooth pace.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is the ultimate love story between a human and those furry, funny, and fantastically annoying yet adorable creatures we call family. The book is also laden with racing metaphors that teach us a great deal about love and life in general: “The race is long—to finish first, first you must finish,” or “The car goes where the eyes go,” and my favorite, “It’s all about the ride.” This last one comes after Denny takes Enzo on his first and only ride on a track and Enzo gets to experience the thrill and excitement that comes from actually racing versus simply viewing it through a dashcam video. Throughout our story, Enzo is always wanting to go faster. Faster, Denny, faster. But as I was nearing the last page, all I wanted time to do was slow down. I wasn’t yet ready to say goodbye to this wonderful narrator that showed me that life was about living, loving, and—most importantly—listening because listening is what Enzo, like all of our furry companions, does best. Thank you, Garth Stein…and Enzo…for giving me a ride that I will surely remember for a long, long time.
*Book cover image attributed to www.walmart.com
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