The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was The New York Times best selling book in 2008. I recommend this to anyone who likes a good man and dog story. It’s told from the dog’s point of view. Since dogs can’t be everywhere humans can, they’re only able to guess what happens in certain situations. Such is the case with Enzo, acquired as a puppy by race car driver Dennis Swift. After purchasing Enzo from a puppy farm, Dennis marries Eve, and they have a daughter, Zoie. When Dennis isn’t racing, he works as a sales representative at a car dealership. As Zoie grows older, his racing career takes him away from home more often, and this becomes a source of contention between Dennis and Eve.
When Zoie is five years old, Eve is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Enzo senses the onslaught of this disease years earlier but being a dog, he can’t warn her. Besides, as he points out, Eve wouldn’t have wanted to know since she refused to see a doctor when she first developed headaches, nausea, vomiting, and mood swings.
When Eve is hospitalized and given only six to eight months to live, her parents, who never liked Dennis and blame him for not forcing Eve to seek medical attention earlier, do what they say is best. They insist Eve and Zoie live with them. They set up a hospital bed in their living room and hire nurses around the clock. Dennis agrees to let Zoie live with her mother and grandparents only because he thinks Zoie should be with her mother for as much of her remaining time as possible. He has no idea what Eve’s parents have up their sleeves.
On the day Eve dies, Dennis is slapped with a lawsuit from her parents for custody of Zoie. The next day, he is arrested for raping Eve’s fifteen-year-old cousin while driving her home from a family gathering. Enzo has witnessed the so-called rape, but because he’s a dog, he can’t reveal the truth to anyone except in a dream where he testifies in court with the help of a speech synthesizer.
Thus follows a three-year court battle. At one point, Dennis is ready to sign an agreement in which he relinquishes custody of Zoie in exchange for the clearing of the rape charges against him, but Enzo snatches the papers and pees on them, and Dennis decides to keep fighting. It takes a miracle to exonerate Dennis and reunite him with Zoie.
In the end, Enzo’s health declines after he is hit by a car. On the day Zoie is to return home to her father, he dies, satisfied that he has lived a fulfilling life. He is reincarnated as a little boy who loves car racing. To learn more about Garth Stein and his writing, visit http://www.garthstein.com/bio.php
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Author of We Shall Overcome