The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
The Art of Racing in the Rain was a recommendation from a co-worker. He described it as a book written from a dog’s perspective and very good. I’m always up for a good recommendation, so I was happy to add it to my list. Well, this book made me laugh and cry, and was moving and sweet. It was not a “happy” book per se, but it was beautiful and I loved it, even with the challenging subject matter.
Enzo is an unusual dog. He is more intellectual and introspective than other dogs, and he also believes that after he dies he will return as a human, which he longs to do. He belongs to Denny, a race car driver/mechanic and adores him. It’s just the two of them until Eve comes along. Enzo is jealous for a while, but learns to accept her in Denny’s life. Then, Zoë comes along and Enzo in enchanted and instant buddies with Denny and Eve’s little girl. Life is beautiful.Spoilers: Then things spiral downhill. Eve gets sick, but it is years before she agrees to see a doctor, and by then it’s too late: she has brain cancer. After battling it for a few months in the hospital, Eve decides to move in with her parents, and keep Zoë with her, so Denny can keep up with his racing career. Denny reluctantly agrees and they are all hopeful that Eve is improving. After a few more months they have a magical night where Eve is glowing and they all believe she’ll be returning home, but that night she dies. Denny is desolate, and to make matters worse, his in-laws sue him for custody of Zoë. Denny is heart-broken, but determined to fight for his daughter (who is only 5 at this point). After a few years of being drained of cash, pummeled emotionally, being accused of sexual abuse, and being all-together worn down, Denny is ready to give up. However, his friends encourage him and his parents (with whom he’s been estranged for years) come back into his life to support him and give him his inheritance. Denny rallies and in the end he wins the custody battle. He is also offered a racing position with Ferrari in Italy, which he happily accepts. But then Enzo’s time has come to leave Denny. Enzo’s been there through the happy years and through all the difficult ones, but he is old and sick and finally has to die. It is peaceful and so, so sad (crying writing about it). Denny is able to move to Italy with his daughter and have a fulfilling racing career. After being settled and establishing himself in Italy, he is introduced to a young boy who is an avid fan and knows all about racing. His name is Enzo.
One theme of this book is making your own destiny and having faith to change your life and your path. At the beginning of the book Ayrton Senna is quoted, “With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.” Enzo takes this to heart and at one point reflects, “I had always wanted to love Eve as Denny loved her, but I never had because I was afraid. She was my rain. She was my unpredictable element. She was my fear. But a racer should not be afraid of rain; a racer should embrace the rain. I, alone, could manifest a change in that which was around me. By changing my mood, my energy, I allowed Eve to regard my differently. And while I cannot say that I am a master of my own destiny, I can say that I have experienced a glimpse of mastery, and I know what I have to work toward.”
Summing it up: I highly recommend this book! It was beautiful and moving and simply wonderful.
All the best, Abbey