Harper Collins, 2008
Source: my public library
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I had heard how great a story The Art of Racing in the Rain is. I was a bit...apprehensive...because I'm not a dog person and I'm not a racing person. If you'll remember from my review last week of The Girl Who Threw Butterflies, I am not a sports person at all. So I finally sat down to read it. It was beautiful.
Told from the point of view of Enzo, a dog, we see the lives of the Swift family and their happiness, sadness, vulnerability, anger, and meanness. Enzo sees it all. Since he is an enlightened dog who is determined that his next life will be that of a human, he studies them. Sometimes his insights into the lives of Denny Swift, his wife Eve, and their daughter Zoey are just overwhelming because they are so telling, so truthful, and more human person would understand. Denny dreams of a life as a racer and is incredibly good at driving, especially at driving in the rain, but life has made it so pursuing his dreams isn't always an option. He loves his family and does his best by them. Enzo sees Denny as a hero of a man who saved him and loves all those who are special to Denny.
Inside each of resides the truth...the absolute truth. But sometimes the truth is hidden in a hall of mirrors. Sometimes we believe we are viewing the real thing, when in fact we are viewing a facsimile, a distortion (301).Sometimes I was overwhelmed with sadness by what Enzo saw and tried to understand in his doggy ways. Other times I was overwhelmed with anger, just as confused as he was about why people were acting as they were. How can a person be so cruel? Even as an adult human I ask myself this all the time. How do innocent creatures process this? I often thought of Zoey, Denny's daughter, and how she understood it. I wish I could have gotten a little more insight into her world than we did, but Enzo is Denny's dog. He loves Zoey and protects her, but it is Denny he will follow forever.
I loved Enzo's story, but I thought the racing analogy was just too heavy at times. Woven into Enzo's understanding of the world was his understanding of racing--just as Denny taught him. So there were times when Enzo would explain what he was witnessing in the Swift family through racing analogies. I skimmed through these to check to see if there was anything I needed to know. There was a lot of reference to famous racers (I assume they are real people, but like I said, I know very little about racing and had little desire to look them up because I needed to find out about these people). In addition to these little snippets were short chapters (2-3 pages) describing different aspects of racing that related directly to what was happening in the story. I started skipping them entirely because I realized that they didn't have anything about the story itself and that's what I was interested in knowing about.
Despite the abundance of racing descriptions, I do recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain because it was really a beautiful look at humanity and the lives of humans. Seeing it through Enzo's eyes gives us, as humans, some insight into our lives.
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