Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein

Harper, 2008

My Rating: C+

Synopsis (from Amazon)

If you’ve ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein’s third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off.

Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny’s old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man.

When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny’s bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama.

My thoughts:

I know I will offend many of you but The Art of Racing in the Rain was not that good for me. This was the Book Group’s choice, not mine. I will agree that the writing was very good and the story was very creative. I’m sure it was a personal thing that kept me from enjoying the book. Reading a book written by a dog was a little over the top for me. Others, particularly dog lovers, find the book to be heartwarming, charming, and very funny. Unfortunately, not me. Garth Stein has a new book out and I think I’m going to give it a try.

Check your public library for this book. It’s also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

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13 Responses to Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

  1. I happen to love books about sentient dogs, but I have avoided this one because of the race car aspect. Now I feel better about avoiding it!

  2. You could never offend me, even though I liked this one a lot more than you did. I am a dog lover, though, and I think my dog has thoughts just like that!

  3. cerrin says:

    I am an animal lover but I think I would pass on a book from the perspective from any animal.

    Might be too far fetched even for me.

  4. I want to hear what you truly think about a book so never worry about offending anyone!!! I haven’t read this one but I want to. I love my dog beyond words, in fact, he’s sick right now and won’t come out from under the bed. I wish he could talk to me!!!

  5. BooksPlease says:

    This one doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

  6. Stacy says:

    I usually have a problem with talking animals and I think it might be too over the top for me too.

  7. I’ve never read this book, but I have tried others written from the perspective of the dog and, even though I absolutely LOVE dogs, I guess I don’t want to see life from their vantage point that badly. I think we’ll mark this one off our TBR list. Thanks for the honest review.

  8. FleurFisher says:

    The idea of a book from a dog’s perspective really doesn’t call me. And I’m not sure I’d really want to know what my dog is thinking! And it wouldn’t have occured to me to be offended. You’ve given an honest opinion, clearly and politely, which is all anyone could ask for.

  9. Belle says:

    I’m not really a dog person – more a cat person. I wonder now how I’d feel about a book written from a cat’s perspective? Other than children’s books, I don’t think I’ve actually read a cat written from an animal’s perspective.

  10. Ti says:

    I didn’t love it myself but at the very end of the book I felt as if Stein struck a chord with me. I am not a dog person so I think that was part of my problem with it and the other was the racing stuff. He lost me with it.

  11. Kafka says:

    I thought fiction exists for a reason…to tell truth through story.

    You folks won’t read it because its about “racing stuff” from a “dog” perspective”?

    I suggest you give it a try instead of just saying “impossible”…you may even like it 🙂

  12. Hannah Cole says:

    My book club selected this book or I would also never have read it based on the cover, the animal narrator, and the racing element. I live in the state that has a NASCAR Hall of Fame, but I see all car racing as a huge waste of gas. I am an English major, and the term for Enzo is unreliable narrator in analytical terms. Yes, it was sad, but Eve chooses not to take advantage of any medical help until it is too late. This just makes me angry with her. The reincarnation of Enzo in the end is just too cute and as hackneyed as ” I woke up and found it was all a dream.” This is something I tried to teach tenth graders NOT to do in their writing!

  13. Tess says:

    My book club chose this book and I hated it. I read a lot of books and Art of Racing in the Rain was one of the worst books I have read.

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