Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I don't know what my problem is lately.  For the past month or so, every time I go to pick out a new book the only ones that look good to me are ones about animals.  I reviewed A Dog's Purpose back in June.  I read War Horse one afternoon last week.  And now I read this.  For whatever reason, books about animals totally appeal to me right now.  So if they don't appeal to you, I apologize.  I will try very hard to make my next book review to be animal-free.

I couldn't resist.
Enzo is a special dog.  And what's funny is that he knows it.  He walks the earth with the spirit of a human trapped in a dog's body. And oh how he wished he had thumbs!  He watches TV (he loves to watch racing), hears private conversations and experiences true emotions.  He knows he is trapped in his canine form, but that doesn't stop him from doing his best to soothe, comfort and stand by his human family.  His master, Denny, is an up-and-coming race car driver with a wife and small child. When Denny's wife is diagnosed with cancer, Enzo is her comfort.  When a subsequent custody battle over the daughter ensues, Enzo is a soothing constant for the girl as well as a faithful friend for Denny.   Enzo sees from Denny that just as in racing, it isn't always about speed.  As he sees it, it is more about the big picture.  Humans should focus on what is ahead and the techniques they need to get there (just like race car drivers do on the track) that makes this life easier and more rewarding to navigate.  Enzo is positive that he will return in his next life as a human and cannot wait to explore the human world as a human instead of a four-legged creature.

If I gave away too many more details I would be spoiling some of the best parts of the book.  I will say that the special relationship Enzo maintains with each different family member was remarkable.  He knew when to play gentle with the toddler, how hard or soft he should nuzzle Eve after she returned home from one of her cancer treatments and even how to offer solace to a grieving husband and father.  The Art of Racing in the Rain makes it seem totally plausible that animals (well, dogs) can understand our conversations and even our relationships.  The absurdity of a dog processing human language and interactions takes a back seat to the profound insight being offered.  Loyalty, love and even some humor make this book a wonderful lesson in what is important in life. All through the eyes of  a dog, that is.

While researching the book, I found that Garth Stein used to be a documentary film maker.  It was in his role as a film maker that he heard about a famous legend in Mongolia.  It is a legend about what happens to a dog once it dies.  It was this legend that lead Stein to write this book some ten years after he initially heard it.  I think when an author has something gnaw at him or her like that for such a long time, it usually leads to something extraordinary.  You can click on the video book trailer below and see for yourself.

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  1. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!

  2. Would you recommend this book to a young adult/teen reader, or is the content/writing level targeted to an adult audience?

  3. Larry - Are you talking about your daughter? If so, I say no. (Plus didn't you just have to say goodbye to your dog?) If it is a mature teen (one that can handle cancer, death, accusations of infidelity, etc.) then yes. I love the theme that our dogs can be reincarnated and are with us forever, but not at the expense of letting my mature "tween" ager read it quite yet.