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The Art of Racing in the Rainby Garth Stein
After the umpteenth customer recommended this book to me, I made it my book club pick. The first few lines made me a bit nervous (because it could have gone so terribly wrong, you see), but I was laughing and crying within the first three pages. I finished the book in less than a day, and I still can't even look at the book without feeling it all again. Stein and his unconventional narrator make the requisite suspension of disbelief effortless; I was swept away and I suspect you will be, too.
Synopses & Reviews
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. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.
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.
"If you've ever wondered what your dog is thinking, Stein's third novel offers an answer. Enzo is a lab terrier mix plucked from a farm outside Seattle to ride shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zo, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. When Denny hits an extended rough patch, Enzo remains his most steadfast if silent supporter. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable enough narrator, though the string of Denny's bad luck stories strains believability. Much like Denny, however, Stein is able to salvage some dignity from the over-the-top drama." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Stein...creates a patient, wise, and doggish narrator that is more than just fluff and collar....
"Pointedly inspirational." Kirkus Reviews
A novel of a young woman who, despite knowing nothing about animals, signs herself up for dog training school at The Sanctuary, where she discovers that rescue can find even the most hopeless among us and that friends come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds
The Sanctuary. High up on the mountain, the Sanctuary is a place of refuge. It is a place where humans save dogs, who, in turn, save the humans. It is a place where the past does not exist, where hopelessness is chased away, where the future hasnand#8217;t been written, where orphans and strays can begin to imagine a new meaning for and#8220;family.and#8221;
Evie is making her way to the Sanctuary. She has lied to gain entry. She has pretended to know more than she does about dogs, but she is learning fast. Once the indomitable Mrs. Auberchon lets her pass, she will find her way. Like the racing greyhound who refuses to move, the golden retriever who returns to his job as the Sanctuaryand#8217;s butler every time heand#8217;s adopted, and the Rottweiler whoand#8217;s a hopeless candidate for search-and-rescue, Evie comes from a troubled past. But as they all learn, no one should stay prisoner to a life she didnand#8217;t choose.
This is the story of two women and a whole pack of dogs who, having lost their way in the world, find a place at a training schooland#8212;and radical rescue centerand#8212;called the Sanctuary. It is a story of strays and rescues, kidnappings and homecomings, moving on and holding on and letting go. And it is, ultimately, a moving and hilarious chronicle of the ways in which humans and canines help each other find new lives, new selves, and new hope.
Sanctuary. Place of refuge. Training school. Command center for The Network. Home for strays and rescued dogs.
Evie is stuck at The Inn, managed by the stern and mysterious Mrs. Auberchon, although sheand#8217;s supposed to join a training program at The Sanctuary. Thatand#8217;s what she signed up forand#8212;never mind that she lied and doesnand#8217;t know the first thing about animals except what sheand#8217;s learned from a breed guide, from the notes someone keeps leaving, and from videos online, like one that asks: Please can more people be nicer to dogs?
Once up on the mountain with staffers, volunteers, and her dog students, Evie takes notes on the new things sheand#8217;s learning. Alpha. Forgiveness. Play. Rehabilitation. Like the racing greyhound who refuses to move, the golden retriever who returns every time heand#8217;s adopted, and the rottweiler whoand#8217;s a hopeless candidate for search-and-rescue, Evie came from a troubled past. She writes: and#8220;Rescue. Best. Verb. Ever.and#8221; As she creates her own training manual, she may even write an entry on herself.
A worthy shelf-mate to books by Garth Stein and Carolyn Parkhurst, this is a brilliantly engaging novel about finding fellow animals who may bring you a deeper sense of home, healing, and the power of inventing a future.
About the Author
The author of two novels, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets and Raven Stole the Moon, and a play, Brother Jones. Garth Stein has also worked as a documentary filmmaker. He lives in Seattle with his family.
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