The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein, 2006
Enzo the dog is nearing the end of his life. He's lived with Denny, a racecar driver, since he was a puppy and he's seen and done quite a lot. He also watches a lot of TV during the day, so he's learned things, like how he will come back as a human in his next life, and he's been preparing for it. This book is about Enzo taking stock of his life to this point and remember everything he's been through with Denny and his family.
I put off reading this book for a long time. I had heard really great things about it, that it was an amazing book, a bit heart-wrenching, but really well-written. I even bought it for my Nook. But I didn't read it... The concept was just too weird for me. Was I really interested in reading a book told from the point of view of the family dog? But I finally read it... And now I'm kicking myself that I didn't read it sooner.
This book was so well done. Enzo has an almost human point of view - he understands nearly everything that a human would (a few things go over his head), and even sometimes understands more than his humans do. He talks like a philosopher a lot of the time, but not a pretentious one. Just one who is sure that he will come back after he dies, and he wants to be sure that he learns as much as he can in the hope that he will remember.
The human characters in this book were a little less developed than Enzo was, but they were still very interesting to read about. Denny, of course, is the one that Enzo is closest to, so we get more insight on him, but I really enjoyed reading about Denny's wife and child as well, and I found Enzo's impressions of the secondary characters mostly pretty entertaining.
The one warning I can give is this: the ending is a bit heart-breaking. We know from the first few pages that Enzo is dying; the book is actually him looking back on his life. So the ending isn't surprising, but it is a little bit of a tear-jerker. A few events that happy throughout the book tear at the heart a bit, too, so just be careful about reading this book in public.
This is not a long book - just over 300 pages - but it packs a punch. This is one that I would heartily recommend to almost anyone. Just be prepared to have your heartstrings tugged a little bit. I'm glad I finally made myself read this one. Totally worth it.