Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

I was skeptical about this book club selection. A book narrated by a dog about a race car driver? It sounded a bit hokey. I'm not a big fan of dogs or races. I doubted I would enjoy the book. I was wrong. While it was, indeed, hokey in spots (especially where the dog perceives a crazed zebra as responsible for the destruction of several stuffed animals or where the dog imagines he gains a tongue and presents evidence during a court proceeding), I did somewhat enjoy this read.

Enzo is the beloved dog of Denny, the race car driver. He is loyal and true. He sees things and knows things, but can only communicate with gestures. Like the reader, he observes a tragic story playing out and wishes he could intervene to change the trajectory, but cannot prevent the collision and the damage. I wouldn't have believed it could work, using a dog as the narrator of a story, but it does.

Enzo explains how Denny came to claim him, then met and married his true love, and had a daughter, Zoe. He outlines the course of events as Denny's beloved wife battles a brain tumor and her parents swoop in to steal away everything Denny holds dear. But Denny is a fighter. He's a race car driver. He knows about the perils of racing in the rain and he knows how to fix his eyes on where he wants to be in the race.

The book is full of quips of wisdom gleaned from the art of racing. The racing mantras prove valuable as life lessons and observations about our humanity and the obstacles we face. The book is inspirational and uplifting (although very depressing as Denny's obstacles mount) and is truly a more tender tale because of the specific perspective from which it is told. So, if you are skeptical, give it at least fifty pages (my own personal test before I'll cast a book aside) and then see. You might find you are hooked into the story and eager to know what Enzo observes and learns.

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