Book Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

I’ve been in a book rut the past few months. Was trying to read but just couldn’t get into the choices I made. I abandoned a Chuck Palahniuk book after 100 pages, “As I Lay Dying” by Faulkner couldn’t suck me in despite being a recognized classic, and other one that I can’t even remember the name.

When my cousin suggested this book to me and told me that it was about racing but told from a dog’s point of view, I figured it had to be worth a read. Wow, did I underestimate how good it would be. I read this book in 36 hours and that was only because I had to put it down to function at work by getting sleep. I could have easily read this in one sitting. It grabbed my attention and my heart-strings from page one.

Enzo is Denny’s dog. And Denny is trying very hard to make his dreams a reality by becoming a reputable racing driver. Enzo is along with him for every step of the journey, which includes marriage, a daughter, race wins, set backs, and more hardship than one person should have to endure. I cried… a lot.

Ultimately, though, Enzo helped Denny never give up fighting through those hardships. It was always amusing to read Enzo’s frustrations about not being able to communicate his ideas and thoughts because he’s stuck in a dog’s body. He’s philosophical, wise beyond his years, and barks his way through the best he can to ultimately help keep Denny strong when he wants to quit. Just thinking about it now makes me tear up. The compassion, fortitude, and unwavering love this dog has for his human is the exact portrayal we all imagine a dog has for its human.

The book starts with Enzo remembering everything the night before his death, so there is no surprise about where the story is going to end. But that’s not what matters. The journey they both go through–the life experiences that teaches them both in different ways makes it compelling.

And it sure doesn’t hurt that there are scenes where they both get to go racing. The short history lessons on race tracks, drivers, and different racing series certainly appealed to me as a racing fan. If I had to knit pick, some of the descriptions of how racing feels or how driving on a race track feels were a bit over explained to my taste, but I see the author’s need to do so since the average person wouldn’t have a clue about most of it.

When I started writing this post, I found out that Disney will be turning the book into a movie. It will be tough to pull off every aspect of the story, given the nature of some of the plot points. When I say Denny gets dragged through hell and piles of shit, I feel like it’s an understatement. Not entirely sure how Disney will address some of them, or if they will rewrite it more to their family oriented liking.

The latter would be a mistake in my eyes–those awful events bring about Enzo’s most poignant thoughts and revelations. They’re what make him so important to Denny’s spirit and survival. They’re what demonstrate without equivocation that man’s best friend is his dog. And we don’t give out dogs enough credit.

Racing fan or not; dog lover or not, this is one hell of a novel. It’s one I would read again and cry just as much, knowing exactly what was coming, but still turning each page with anticipation, reading through the blur.

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