Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Julie's Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

Summary: If you've ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein's third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny's bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama. ~Amazon.com

Review: I am so late to the game on this book, since the blogging world was all a buzz with this about a year ago. The Art of Racing in the Rain is definitely a book for someone who loves dogs, has had a dog or has a dog.

I loved how Mr. Stein did write the novel from a dog's point of view. It was an intriguing look at this family's life through their dog, who was so much an important part of their lives. The story starts out with Enzo at the end of his life, and then is told in flashbacks. We are with him when Denny comes to pick him out of the litter and with him in the end.

I'm definitely not a race fan but I don't think you need to be to enjoy the story. Sure it's full of racing metaphors but I think that they are cliche enough for us lay people to understand. I loved the relationship that Enzo develops with Eve and Zoe. At first he is wary of Eve because of her taking Denny's attention from him but eventually he learns to love Eve. Besides Denny, Zoe is the one that Enzo adores. He vows to protect her and that he does. He is there for her whenever she needs him.

In the end, the book is about family and what we will do for the ones we love. How we will move heaven and earth for them, even if it breaks us.

As Americans we tend to humanize our pets; so Mr Stein just took that idea and capitalized on it. He put into words with Enzo what many dog owners think. Most other cultures think we are a bit strange with this line of thinking. I think it's just our way of bonding with another member of our family.

While I really enjoyed the book, it didn't blow me away. If you are looking for an interesting take on family and racing, The Art of Racing in the Rain is for you.

Final Take: 3.75/5

This was part of the What's in a Name #4 Challenge.



Julie P February 1, 2011 at 12:12 AM  

This one is sitting on my TBR shelf. Thanks for sharing....

Anonymous ,  February 1, 2011 at 9:32 PM  

This book made me CRY LIKE A BABY when I read it and I absolutely adored it. Even though you didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did, I'm glad you really liked it anyway! Stephanie @ www.stephanieswrittenword.com

Julie February 2, 2011 at 9:40 AM  

Stephanie - I cried in the first 5 pages and then at the end. I was expecting to cry A LOT based on your review and some others.

Jenn February 3, 2011 at 7:51 AM  

I know what you mean. Everyone was over the moon about Marley & Me too and I just thought it was good... actually I was mostly frustrated by the lack of knowledge about dogs and behavior, than anything.

Julie February 3, 2011 at 9:51 AM  

I read Marley & Me and while I bawled like a baby I didn't think it was great writing. Now, I think his kid book looks adorable.

Unfortunately, I bet that some owners are exactly as they were in the movie.

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