2018 Reading List: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Every day, I look into the big endless depths of my dog’s eyes and I wonder what she’s thinking. I imagine that she’s grateful to have a warm, loving home. I imagine that my parents’ dog is her best friend. I imagine that she gets annoyed when we’re late coming home from work. She can’t articulate these things, but I write the story of her thoughts in my own mind, anthropomorphizing her.

I love books that do the same, in the same, realistic way that I would write it myself.

To be honest, I picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, at the library because I thought it was a book about greyhounds (which should be written, by the way). Instead, the “racing” was referring to car racing. But the book itself was still written from the perspective of the family dog. And it was perfect.

The book is written from Enzo, the dog’s, perspective but Stein found a way to include the dog on a lot of big events, so Enzo is able to tell the story without missing too much information.

It’s a sad and heartbreaking story, but ultimately warm and uplifting. Enzo is a dog who has an uncanny interest in car racing, either by nature or because that’s what Denny left on the TV while he was at work, I’m not sure. But Enzo finds a way to relate the lessons and strategies from racing into life lessons, to help himself and his family get through tough times.

Enzo is common thread throughout the story, holding the family together as Denny first gets married and Denny brings a new person into his home. Then as they have a child together, Enzo is the watchdog and protector. When Denny goes away for long periods of time to race around the country, Enzo is the silent support. Enzo is witness to disagreements, to love, to conspiracy, to scandal, to heartbreak. He knows before Eve does that she is sick and he knows that he must be there for her until the end. Even long after that, Enzo stays true to his role and his Denny, helping as Denny tries to get custody of his daughter in the only way he knows how – through silent thoughts and long puppy-dog stares.

The life of this dog is so realistic, his thoughts seem real and honest. It makes you really believe that there is a whole world of language that dogs have that they just can’t share with us.

In the end, Enzo has lived a happy and fulfilling life. He was put into this family for a reason and he fulfilled his promises.

It’s horrifically sad to read about the short lives of dogs, taken away from their humans before the humans are ready. But stories like these give hope and peace that everything will be okay. That this is how it’s supposed to be. They’re only supposed to be here for a little while, provide us with the comfort, reassurance and love that we need in that time, and then they are gone.

But as this book alludes, they’re never truly gone from our lives forever.

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