Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain (Stein)

The Art of Racing in the Rain

© Bright White Light, LLC 2008

Author: Garth Stein

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Fiction

Subgenre: Family Life, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

Reviewer: Sara

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The story of life through the eyes of Enzo, a Golden Retriever: life experience as a dog, as a companion to a human and a member of a family. Raised by Denny from a pup, Enzo shares in Denny’s life from singleton to single dad, and all the highs and lows in between. He offers a view of human idiosyncrasies and ridiculousness without judgment in preparation for the path his soul will follow when his canine life comes to an end.


Enzo’s story lumbers away with the reader’s attention and heart in the way only a good dog will do. He brings insight in the form of an outsider’s perspective to minutiae of human life, in particular to our actions and reactions, and the habits we keep.

The reader is introduced to Enzo near the end of his life, then relives the details of the life he shared with Denny for so many years, from the beginning. The end of the book circles around to tie up the story and does so without leaving any loose ends. It’s a technique attempted by many and done well by few. Mr. Stein is one of those exceptions who inspires so many to try. It was so effective and I was so endeared to Enzo by the end that I found myself misty-eyed.

The story is a well-paced journey through life as a (mostly) silent family member. Sometimes a participant, though more often an observer, Enzo has an awareness of what’s to come that can’t be seen by the people he loves. With his keen sense of right and wrong and unshakeable loyalty, I found him instantly endearing. The other characters are all carefully crafted and guide the story, and Enzo’s life, while the reader and Enzo hold on for the ride. And what a ride it is!

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a brilliant read for the busy mom (and kids – definitely YA readers, maybe MG). It’s a fast read full of moments of beauty, deception, love, lust, anxiety and despair. Mr. Stein winds them through the story, making them tangible for the reader in a unique way. I realized the parallels between being a reader and a companion in reading the story of Enzo. Sometimes as a reader, I’m frustrated that I cannot reach through the pages to the characters and give them the shake they need. Perhaps in the same way our pet companions wish they could call our attention to something staring us in the face. For me, it begs the question: What does my cat / dog / (insert other companion critter here) see and know, about which I am oblivious? What would they say to me, could they speak? Then, of course, there’s also the bigger question, perhaps hope, of this book, about how intricately our souls are tied to one another. But I’ll leave that one for you to ponder on your literary journey with Enzo.

How I learned of and came to own this book: My former supervising physician recommended this book to me (for which I’m very grateful!) and it was given to me as a gift.


Thanks for reading! Happy trails and may the good books be plentiful. 🙂

Cover design: Archie Ferguson

Cover photograph:

I’m always on the hunt for new books! Indie published, from small press or the big 5, please share a book you’d like to see reviewed here!

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