Friday, August 27, 2010

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

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a book about overcoming obstacles. Denny Swift, an emerging race car driver, has a tight bond with his philosophical dog, Enzo. Enzo has become well trained in the art of race car driving by listening to Denny's wisdom and because when Enzo is left alone at home, Denny leaves the TV on for him to learn even more about race cars and human life. You see, Enzo believes in his next life he will return as a human and so his “dog life” is a dress rehearsal for human life when he returns.

By the way, the dog, Enzo, is the story's narrator.

Denny's life is on course. He has married a woman he loves, Eve, and they have a precious little girl, Zoe. The whole family dotes on the little girl, especially Enzo who fills in for Denny whenever he is not around. Eve becomes ill and her parents convince Denny that it would be in Zoe's best interest if Zoe lived with her grandparents as Eve has become permanently bed ridden and Denny is busy pursuing his race car driving career. This is when the story becomes focused on obstacles and how sacrifices, however difficult at the time, are the truest test of our character and often times out greatest sense of pride in the long run.

Without giving away too many of the details, the story becomes centered around who should take custody of Zoe when Eve succumbs to her illness. Zoe's grandparents use their great wealth and power to overwhelm Denny who must use his wisdom gained from driving a race car, especially the fine art of racing in the rain, in order to successfully contend with Zoe's grandparents. All the while, Enzo is there for Denny, guiding him the best a way he can, though limited in human communication. Some of the most endearing parts of the story occur when Enzo has observed something that Denny should know but cannot tell him. It is in these moments that Enzo takes notes for his future life as a human as he will file these experiences away and become a human full of wisdom in the ways of the world. In the meantime, he is forced to watch Denny stumble through traps, and Enzo—ever the faithful companion—is always there for him to lean on and talk to.

One of the endearing things about this story is the narrative structure. Enzo gives the reader periodic, short chapters about past racing greats and how they overcame their obstacles. Then, Enzo leads (or reminds) Denny about what it takes to succeed in the face of challenges.

Loose grips on the steering wheel, taking what the car will give you, and remembering that the car goes where the eyes go help Denny stay on course in racing and in life.

A good, fast read, highly recommended to all.

No comments:

Post a Comment