Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review and Give Away: The Art of Racing in the Rain (Stein)

Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Genre: Adult Mystery
Pages: 321
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: Book Group, Where Are You Reading
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money
Summary (from the back of the book): A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, and hope--a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life... as only a dog could tell it.

Review: My book group chose this book and I went along with the choice. The summary (above) doesn't exactly give a great description of what this book is about and so I wasn't excited to read this book. A dog's perspective? Weird. Then I tried to push this book onto my MUS Moms book group so I'd be doubly motivated to read it. They didn't fall for that idea at all. I was so wrong! I really liked this book!

So here's the scoop with this book. I cried (like a baby at one point), I laughed out loud (boy did that feel great), and I really cared about the characters and the storyline. And before you say, "but I am not a dog person so this book isn't for me", just relax. The narrator happens to be a dog, but you certainly don't have to be a dog lover to appreciate this book because it is about so much more.

Here's a better summary without giving away too much. Enzo (the dog) has human thoughts and really wishes he could communicate better (if his darn tongue just wasn't so big and floppy!). He tells us the story of his family: Denny, Eve, and baby Zoe. We learn of their accomplishments, sorrows, trials, and good times. Through Enzo the reader gets a very interesting view of family life and how we deal with one another. And trust me, Enzo sees the good and the bad.

Why "the art of racing"? Denny is a race car driver who wants to be a professional. There is a lot of car racing talk and analogies to life, which if I had known about it I would have been even more unhappy. But the author did a really good job of making racing okay for those of us not in-the-know of that world. I liked the way he compared life to a race, with its twists and turns, and how a driver's attitude can determine if he wins or loses.

I own a dog so I definitely appreciated the dog perspective. It made me wonder what my Charlie knows or thinks. I don't want to give Charlie too much credit, but he definitely knows who's who in the household and when someone is unhappy (he'll be sure to stick to that person and cuddle).

If you like books that are a study of life in addition to a great plot, then this is the book for you!

Geography Connection:
This book takes place in the Seattle area, but isn't specific on the locations. Seattle is a great city and the state of Washington is so beautiful! In fact, I've decided to take my daughter up to the San Juan Islands this summer. You can click on the link to see my updated Google Map.

Books I've read based in Washington state: Books by Anjali Banerjee (Haunting Jasmine, Seaglass Summer, and Invisible Lives are ones I have reviewed)

11 comments:

Sunnysmileqt said...

Loved your review. I've looked at this book several times at the store but just didn't think it would be one for me. I'm much more motivated to give it a try now after reading your review. Happy reading!!!

Jenners said...

I read this because I was curious how Stein pulled off writing from a dog's point of view. It was interesting ... and I loved the ending. What a dramatic and tragic story though!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I read this book almost 3 years ago and will never forget Enzo. Love books with dogs as narrators...sweet story. READ: I Thought You Were Dead; Pete Nelson, if you liked this book.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I have been really interested in this book. A girl in my book club said it was fantastic!

I just checked out your map and it looks so good!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Sunny--I never would have chosen this book from reading the description, but am glad I read it

Jenners--Very dramatic and quite emotional. I did do some skimming of the racing stuff, I'll admit

Diane--When I talk to my dog I wonder now what he is understanding or trying to say to me :-)

Sheila--Thanks for looking at the map, I am definitely having fun doing it

Aths said...

Much as I am a big dog person, I stay away from all pet books because they make me cry more than any "human" book! But you've made me really curious about this one - so I'd love to read this.

Amy said...

This is a book I keep meaning to read although I am a little worried something bad happens to the dog as I don't do will with injured or abused animals. But I've read so many good things about this book that I do want to read it.

Thank you!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths--This book definitely made me cry. What is it about animal books?!

Amy--You don't have to worry about abuse in this book, but the book does span the life of the dog.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

OOPS! I think I just signed up for this again - please disregard my second entry :)

Veens said...

I love dogs and I always wondered about this book. I mean would it be interesting to read from a dog's POV? and would it be as good as they show in movies. I think you make it sound very good.

Helen's Book Blog said...

It was interesting to read it from a dog's POV, and I sometimes even forgot he was a dog! Lovely book.