Summary from back cover: 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 pulled 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.
WHAT I THOUGHT: A friend recommended this book to me when I told her about a YA fantasy book I’m currently writing. So while I began reading from a perspective to examine how the author constructed the book, I found myself completely absorbed with the stroyline in not-to-long. Stein does a masterful job at weaving in crap we face in life from the perspective of the family dog. And he does it in such a way that you can’t help but have your heartstrings drawn taut to the point of breaking several times. While there are many sad parts, just like in life, the reflections of mans best friend help convey what it truly means to be a friend and love another unconditionally…warts and all.
Stein mixes in just the right measure of humor to keep the story moving along lest we get too depressed with what’s actually happening to Denny, the dog’s master. Some of this shows in Enzo’s analysis of life using racing as the analogy–You can’t keep your hands too tightly grasping the steering wheel of you can’t react to new concerns, always act for what you anticipate will happen so when it does, you’re still in control and not taken unawares and more. All in all a great read that I recommend to anyone who loves a good tear jerker every once in a while.
Out of popular demand, Stein also created a kids version of this book known as Racing in the Rain, so if you have middle graders, this would be content appropriate for them.
Review: 5 stars
Get The Art of Racing in the Rain (Amazon)
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