You Can Learn A Lot From a Dog

The Art of Racing in the Rain

By: GARTH STEIN
Publish May 13, 2008 by Harper Collins

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life … as only a dog could tell it.

** Synopsis credit: Goodreads

Oh boy… This book spoke to my soul and stomped on my heart.

In the first chapter the reader is given a hint of the ending, allowing ample time for preparation — spoiler alert: it does not mean you won’t still sob like a baby at the end.

I’d like to talk about Enzo, the most philosophical and compassionate dog I have ever had the chance to listen to. Who would expect to relate so much to a terrier mix? I admire Stein so much because he is able to address an issue that a lot of people might deal with — feeling speechless, silent, and like your voice makes no difference.

Enzo witnesses something happen to Denny, and when the tables are turned and Denny is blamed for this act, there is no one to defend him because Enzo was the only other witness. There is an entire sequence where Enzo imagines what it would be like if he could be on the stand in court, sharing the truth of the situation, but of course that is only fantasy. Your heart breaks for this dog and for Denny because you know his innocence and how he has been horribly framed. There’s nothing so heartbreaking as not being able to stand up for the people that mean the most to you.

I was reading this book and what pulls at the heart is this feeling of hopelessness; wishing the world wouldn’t be so cruel and that people could live life free of stigma. I believe that a lot of people go most of their life feeling like they cannot speak up because of repercussions, but is the fear of criticism worth forfeiting something you care about?

More than anything else, Enzo taught me that if you have a voice — if you have the chance to do good and help those you love — why won’t you? Some people are forced into silence because of their situation (ex: dogs can’t speak), but a lot of us – especially in developed countries – have the freedom to be vocal. Personally, I think I’ve decided that I don’t have a good excuse to silence myself when others are in need.

This book requires a philosophical conversation, not a “review”.

I encourage everyone to pick up this book, and if you cry, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Enzo sees the world in a way so many of us could, but we choose not to. He is determined to defend those he loves more than any character I’ve encountered. His love transcends the boundaries of speech and species. I finished this book and all I could think was “I need more time with him”, I wanted more time to learn from Enzo. I hope we all can find an Enzo in our lives, whether they can speak or not. Everyone deserves someone who will love them fiercely and run into storms with them.

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