Sunday, September 18, 2011

Garth Stein. THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

Wow, what a brilliantly written, lovely, moving story! If you have a dog, you'll love this, period. You don't even need to keep reading. Done. But...be polite and read anyway.

We join Enzo on the night before his death. He's telling us a little about his life and then he flashes back to the beginning when his owner, Denny picked him out of the litter. Oh - Enzo's a dog, by the way.

Enzo is lovable right from the start. He is learning all that he can because he believes he will be a man in his next life. (He learned that from television special about Mongolia.) Denny is a race car driver. Enzo watches videos of his races and loves racing just as much as Denny. He and Denny become the best of friends. They understand each other.

Then when Denny brings home Eve, his new wife, the balance changes a little. Enzo isn't the only one Denny loves. Eve doesn't trust or love Enzo yet. However, by the time their baby is born, Enzo is able to win over Eve by vowing to protect Zoe, which he does faithfully throughout the book.

Remember, this is from Enzo's point of view. That may sound strange at first, but the author pulls it off brilliantly. We feel Enzo's struggle to communicate through gestures alone. We feel his love for his family. Most of all, we feel the strong bond between Denny and Enzo - a man and his dog.

The story is dramatic and heart-wrenching. But the writing is what really shines. I have so many post-it note pages that I can't even choose one to share here, like I normally would. There are too many wonderful parts. You must read it for yourself to understand. You will love it! If you're like me, you've often pondered what your dog might be thinking or if he understands you. Well, after this book, you may never look at your dog the way same again.

While reading it, I couldn't help thinking how it would be such an amazing movie. Well, lo and behold, a movie is in development. I'm so excited! Patrick Dempsey is said to be the lead, which is perfect casting, since he races cars in real life. I hope they cast the Enzo narration perfectly too. (Morgan Freeman would be my choice).

One final note - this is an adult book. It's on many of those lists of "adult books for older teens," and teens will love it. But it is an adult book. I just want to be clear.

There is another adapted version of the story for younger readers.

But you'll notice that the title is slightly different, which keeps you from confusing the two. I'm not sure how much is changed in this younger version, although the reviews say that the themes may still be too mature. Younger readers may not enjoy it as much as older readers. I'm sure the demand will be high though, especially after the movie.


If you'd like to see what other books Garth Stein has written, check him out here.