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

racing in the rain book cover

Stein’s work is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship depicting the human experience in a candid and very honest way. In fact, the words “very honest” simply aren’t powerful enough to describe the experience of reading The Art of Racing in the Rain.

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R. Williams in Dead Poet’s Society. If you haven’t seen it we’re probably not friends.

Only Robin Williams can do my feelings justice!

The story is experienced through the eyes, ears, and nose of the lovable and forever loyal Enzo as his master, Danny Swift, lives and races. Despite knowing little about the racing world (and honestly having almost no interest in it) I adored the book. The extended metaphor captures the little moments within this little family so well, a slow down of the high speed pace of life. Sometimes a turn is made with such precision that you can hardly believe the execution and at other times you end up in the pit with a flat tire and blown transmission. Take Two!

At one point during the novel Enzo says that although he cannot relate the details of a particular event he knows the emotions behind it and thus, despite the specifics probably being incorrect, the story is still true. I found this story to be so true it was almost unbearable at times. We walk as Enzo beside Danny when his daughter Zoe is taken from him by his in-laws, when he watches his wife being buried from afar, and when he is destitute in a hovel. One of my favorite recurring symbols throughout the novel is the evil zebra, which first manifests when Enzo is forgotten and becomes delirious without food or refreshed water for days. Afterwards, the zebra appears when anything Enzo declares to be evil touches or interacts with the people he considers family.

Despite the dark topics that the novel deals with, there is a lighthearted undertone that is never lost. I was miraculously inspired as I read, even at the darkest of times. If you haven’t thought about Stein’s book or added it to your GoodRead’s list, I would seriously re-consider. We can learn so much from observation, and our furry friends are the ultimate observers.

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