The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of the sweetest, most heart-wrenching stories I've read in a long time. I haven't been that near to bawling my eyes out while reading a book since I was like nine years old!
You've heard about this book, right? (No shame if you haven't — I hadn't until about 14 people recommended it on my Dog (Book) Post.) It's narrated by dog named Enzo. Enzo is annoyed that he doesn't have thumbs and can't talk, but comforts himself with the notion that in his next life, he'll be human. In fact, he feels like he's ready to be human now. (He also thinks that the domestication of dogs was a conspiracy by humans to prevent them from evolving further. If I were a dog, I'd buy that for sure!)
Enzo lives with Denny, an amateur race car driver, Denny's wife Eve and daughter Zoe. Life is good for awhile. But then it's not. Eve gets sick. Her parents meddle. And increasingly bad things happen. But Enzo sticks by Denny's side, both as a companion and a voice (so to speak) of reason.
Enzo is a dog, to be sure, so there is much he doesn't understand. But what he does, what he's learned from Denny, is that race car driving can be a metaphor for life. And so, the lessons learned on the track are just as applicable when the dog poo hits the fan in real life. Denny explains that the key to racing in the rain is to remember that "that which we manifest is before us." A driver must be proactive because what he initiates, he can control. What he reacts to, he can't. So, too, in life. And as things get increasingly worse for Denny, he's tempted to give in and quit fighting. But it's Enzo's companionship that carries him forward. Denny is an incredibly admirable protagonist, and you root really, really hard for a happy ending. You root so hard, in fact, you're willing to suspend disbelief quite a bit for a few parts (of course, other than the fact that a dog is telling us the story).
This is a must-read for any dog-lover. But if you're a crier, keep the tissues nearby. It's a quick, frenzied read. It's simple, but intellectually engaging. It's funny, but often very sad, too. I really liked it!