“The Art of Racing in The Rain” is a contemporary novel by Garth Stein that utilizes an unusual way of storytelling to portray a complex and touching plot line. Enzo is a sickly, mixed breed dog that narrates his sentiments on rebirth, as he believes with conviction that he will one day be a human. The story brings an extremely personified touch to this animal, as Enzo displays traits that are usually only thought of as being present in people. Enzo welcomes his impending fate and even amplifies his sickness, so as to make the end easier for his owner, Denny, who is a race car driver.
A beautiful parallel comes into place when the reader learns that this is not the first time Denny has dealt with death, as his wife Eve passed away after a long illness that Enzo could detect. Stein compares Denny’s skill at adeptly maneuvering his car around a wet race track, with a certain skill required for dealing with grief. The author’s style of writing is not profusely ornate, and as such is easy for readers of all ages to enjoy. The simple narration of a dog’s mind over a human’s is what defines this novel as a success. Without an excess of cluttered unnecessary emotions, Enzo feels directly- fear, love, joy, excitement. The selflessness that is associated with man’s best friend shines through, as touching non-traditional relationships prevail as some of the novel’s strongest.
Ultimately, this book is a poignant work that shows that connections can be made across many unconventional lines, and that devotion to those you love is key in times of adversity. Stein translates death in a refreshingly peaceful way. Although one of the main sources of heartbreak in the book results from it, it is also one of the main causes for joy- as Enzo more than anything awaits the day he can join his master as a human, and experience what he does. The book leaves readers rooting alongside Enzo, hoping against hope that Denny will succeed at racing, and that the renewal the canine narrator craves will finally come. Garth Stein’s novel is an excellent read for anyone who enjoys a fresh take on telling the trials and joys of human life, with tasteful humor to boot.