“Rain” doesn’t begin to cover the torrential downpour of tears I shed after finishing this book.
You’re probably thinking, “Well, okay, but I’m not a crier.” Neither am I. But boy did Garth Stein accomplish something with this novel.
The lead character and point of perspective is a lovable Golden Retriever by the name of Enzo. Even from puppyhood, he senses that his spirit is closer to man than animal; he dreams of being reincarnated (a philosophy he discovered after too much daytime television) as a man as lovable and inspiring as Denny, his master and a newly promoted race car driver.
When I heard the plot summary, I wasn’t too convinced; this book came out seven years ago and I only recently picked it up. The idea of a nonhuman narrator sounded a little too “children’s-lit” for me; the concept of philosophy through such a perspective wasn’t intriguing. Throw in a million recommendations, glowing Goodreads reviews, and a 4-star average, though, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
The title comes from a concept Denny has been working on for years; though the racetrack is most treacherous in the rain, it’s where he does the best work; it’s where he grows, develops, and discovers what’s most important to win the race. This metaphor is used throughout the book as Denny and Enzo go through gut-wrenching trials: loss of a loved one, friends turned foes, career mishaps, family despairs, etc.
Look. No one likes a sad book just because it’s sad. They like it because it teaches something, because it’s relatable, because it’s comforting to know others can endure the pain life inevitably throws our way. I thought The Art of Racing in the Rain would be another clichéd sob story, and though I pegged the sobbing part just fine, nothing cliché exists between these three hundred pages.
Who should read it? Read it if you need a good cry. Read it if you need to hear a story of friendship and perseverance. Read it if you like sharp, clear writing. I don’t care what your reason is, but do yourself the favor—read it.
Thanks for reading. –Autumn