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“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein: Book Review

Updated on July 23, 2020
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Rose is an enthusiastic writer and reader who publishes articles every Thursday. She enjoys all book genres, especially drama and fantasy.

What’s the Big Deal?

Published in 2008 and inspiring a children’s book and award-winning movie since, The Art of Racing in the Rain has set both theaters and bookstores swiftly abuzz. The movie, which was released in 2019, was directed by Simon Curtis and grossed $26.4 million just in the U.S. and Canada. The book, which was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2009 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, has not only garnered attention and great reviews, but also helped to teach kids and adults the world over just what it means to be human.

Book Summary

In some cases, you don’t even have to be human to learn humankind’s greatest lessons. Enzo, the faithful, old dog of racecar driver Denny Swift, kowns this better than anyone. He started out a wriggling pup, struggling for milk amidst his many brothers and sisters—but his life truly began when he was picked by Denny to love and be loved, without consequence.

Enzo is there to witness Denny fall in love with a woman named Eve. Although he’s jealous, no longer getting Denny’s full attention, he comes to accept it when Denny marries her. Enzo witnesses the birth of their baby girl, Zoë; he knows before any one else when Eve develops cancer. Most of the time, the family pet will notice and be there for all these things, but they won’t have a large influence on them. That’s where Enzo is different.

When Denny gets wrapped up in a lawsuit, accused of sexual misconduct with a girl who actually sexually abused him, he is banned from seeing his daughter. Even worse, he’s largely alone as he fights the battle—Eve lost her own battle with cancer. So it takes Enzo, the friend who was there since the beginning, to teach Denny never to give up; it takes Enzo for Denny to get his daughter back. And largely, it takes Enzo for Denny to understand what it really means to be human.

Quick Facts

Book Info
Author: Garth Stein
Pages: 336
Genre: Drama, adventure fiction
Ratings: 4.2/5 Goodreads, 4.9/5 ThriftBooks
Release date: January 1, 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins

To Read or Not to Read?

I recommend this book if:

  • You’ve read and enjoyed books like A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, White Fang or Call of the Wild by Jack London, or The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson
  • You’re interested in racecar driving
  • You like dogs, companionship, and family stories (which should be everyone!)
  • You like books peppered with advice, but also fun and cute scenes
  • You’ve had a pet or loved one pass away recently and feel that you need closure

“So much of language is unspoken. So much of language is comp-romised of looks and gestures and sounds that are not words. People are ignorant of the vast complexity of their own communication.”

— “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein


“The perfect book for anyone who knows that some of our best friends walk beside us on four legs; that compassion isn’t only for humans; and that the relationship between two souls...meant for each other never really comes to an end.” —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“An unputdownable and beautiful book, it is both heart-breaking and a must-read for dog-lovers far and wide. This book will change you, and it might just change the way you look at dogs, forever.” —The Lit Edit

Official Movie Trailer:

The Takeaway

I’m not overly sentimental, but it did take a bit of effort for me not to cry at the end of this sweet, heart-wrenching novel. After I read it, I found myself looking at my dogs with a new kind of thoughtfulness, and looking at life with a happier fervor. Enzo says that “That which you manifest is before you”—and although that quote sounds packed, it really means that what you take in in life—books, movies, art—become a part of you. As far as The Art of Racing in the Rain goes, I firmly believe that to be true.

If you’re interested, you can buy the book here.


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