Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Photo taken from Goodreads

Book Info

Title:  The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author:  Garth Stein
Publisher:  Harper Paperbacks 
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
Pages:  336 pages
ISBN - 10:  0061537969
ISBN - 13:  978-0061537967
Source:  Purchased, National Book Store


From Goodreads
"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.
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 life . . . as only a dog could tell it."

There's a new philosopher on the block, and he's got  four legs.  Meet Enzo, a lab terrier mix who considers himself a dog with a human soul.  An avid car racing fan who gains his education through his race car driver master, as well as through watching television, he believes in the Mongolian belief that once a dog serves his lifetime as a dog, he will be reincarnated as a man - which he learned from the National Geographic Channel and therefore must be true.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein gives us this lovable four-legged wonder who could probably give Deepak Chopra a run for his money.

Born in a farm and taken as a puppy to live with race car driver Denny Swift, Enzo is fond of relating the intricacies of car racing to dealing with everyday life.  It is a cliche, yes:  relating the art and science of complicated race car driving techniques to daily living is a common - if not pedestrian - premise, but use a dog as a narrator, as its prime preacher, a dog who could not speak, could not move his paws as human hands could due to lack of thumbs, then you have a pretty interesting inspirational fiction that will surely be appealing to readers of all ages.

If you are wondering about what your dog is thinking, then wonder no more and just read this book.  His obsession with opposable thumbs, his frustration due to his inability to speak, and his shame at being 'such a dog' was such a joy to read about, and his natural sense of humor will have you smiling as you turn the pages of this dog's story - which is not his story at all, not really, but the story of his brilliant master's life as only a dog can tell it.

The voice is sound and distinct, although the narration had something to answer for, because no matter how many times I go back and forth, I could not reconcile the parallelism of the first chapter to the last - yes the plot is still the same but the circumstances did not seem to align.  But maybe that's just me.  Otherwise, the hardships, triumphs and the life lessons from a dog culled from his knowledge of car racing will have you admiring the style of writing and the versatility of Mr. Stein to be able to write such a believable character.  The really rough patch that Enzo's master encounters in his life is a bit too tiring, dragging, and unrealistic, but the reader will get the point that as this is an inspirational book at its core, he/she must be able to always expect the worst in order to understand the teachings that this philosopher cum car racing buff dog imparts to this book's audience.

Makes me want to get a new dog more.  And of course, to read other books by Garth Stein.

If you have any questions on this particular rating, please refer to my ratings system here.


All opinions expressed in this book review are my own and not influenced by any party in any way. 

Please contact me for questions, comments, and suggestions.  


  1. I always wonder what my dogs are thinking, but at the same time I'm afraid of what they have thought about. (laughs)

    Great review Nina!

    Kelsa P.

  2. My now-dead dog probably thought I spoke too much and never fed him enough (you know, those bottomless pits that are dogs' tummies) when he was alive.

    Glad you liked the review!


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