“In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers into the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat or fat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul on its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.
I learned that from a program on the National Geographic channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.
I am ready.”—Enzo, The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain, is a novel written by Garth Stein, an American author and film producer. The story is told by a lovable mutt, Enzo, who dreams of dying and returning back to earth in human form. He sees himself as different from other dogs because he loves to chase cars. He learns by watching TV with his best friend, Denny, who is an up and coming race car driver. As he awaits his death, he looks back at what his family have been through the past years –the sacrifices that Denny has to make for his career, the eventual loss of Denny’s wife, Eve, due to cancer, and Denny’s three year battle with Eve’s parents over the custody of his child, Zoe.
This is such a heart wrenchingly funny story of family, love, loyalty and hope. I had a hard time putting down this book once I started reading it. I laugh a little and cried a lot as I was getting deeper into the story. The extraordinary friendship between Enzo and Denny is amazing. I can’t help but think about my dog Bruns and recalling the times when he was Enzo-like to me.:) I was impressed with the way Garth Stein seamlessly incorporated his vast knowledge of the dog’s psyche (how they respond to human and how they perceive things) in the story. If you don’t like or love dogs, after reading this, you definitely would want one. I was thinking at the onset that this will probably be one of those novels with a predictable ending. But the unexpected twist towards the last few chapters got me hooked till the end.
Surprisingly, I did not feel any heaviness in the heart even after crying so many times while reading this. It did not leave me bothered and affected for days, the way Nicholas Sparks’ books often do. In the end, you would want nothing but to celebrate with the characters because their story ended very well. There’s that renewed sense of hope and celebration of life towards the end. It is also refreshing to note how Garth Stein presented in the book the man’s perspective in situations where woman will openly respond to with drama. It gave me an insight on how a man’s mind works in certain situations.
The title of the book is as such because Enzo learned, through Denny’ experiences in racing, that life is simply not about going fast. He learned that to successfully navigate through life’s learning curves, you have to use the techniques needed in the race track. If you are a guy who is into racing, you will find this book interesting because of those tidbits of racing facts and infos that form part of the story. If you are a girl who’s looking for a nice and easy yet meaningful read, this one is for you also.
There is a special adaptation for young people of this book which is titled Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog. This is the simplified version for kids. Minor changes have been made here so that kids can fully understand and enjoy the story of Enzo without parents having to worry about the sensitive or explicit material in the book. A movie is also in the works, although no definite time yet. Here’s a videobook trailer:
I fully recommend this book to anyone who love dogs or is willing to love dogs. This is beautifully crafted and truly captivating. It has the right formula of love, tragedy, redemption, making it a genuine best seller. On a scale of 1-5, I will give this a 5.:)