The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
My rating: 5 stars
Overview 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. 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. 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.
I'd heard about this book from a lot of different people, but I just never got the appeal of reading something from a dog's perspective. Then I read Stay, and although it wasn't "written" by a dog, he was a big part of the book and I loved it, so I decided to give The Art of Racing in the Rain a try.
I don't know why I waited so long.
From the first page (*ahem* screen - what up kindle!) I was amazed at the cleverness of the writing, and already seeing how this book would pull me right into the plot. The story is amazing and even though it shifts from present to memories, it flows almost seamlessly. I was so engrossed in this book that I stayed up late two nights in a row and read it under 48 hours.
There were so many parts where a sentence was so full of life that I had to stop and think about it for a moment or two. Let me give you a couple of examples. (Side note - I totally figured out how to find pages in my kindle - score for citing things correctly! It's okay, unless you were an English major I don't expect you to be as excited about this as I am).
"People and their rituals.They cling to things so hard sometimes." (page 8)
"Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories." (page 102)
"People are always worried about what's happening next. They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future. People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have." (page 188)
I honestly am not sure if I can describe how much I loved this book - I've learned the reviews it takes me awhile to write are the indicator that a book truly moved me - I want to get the words just right. (Which would be why I finished this book a few days into February and I'm just now writing a review for it).
I highly highly recommend this book. It doesn't matter if you're a dog person. It doesn't matter if you know anything about car racing. You will love this story.
Have you read this book? Did you love it as much as I did? And if you haven't read it, why are you still reading this post? Get thee to a library or bookstore stat!