At it's most basic level, it would be just another good beach read fiction. But this book took me deeper. It let me imagine how much dogs can understand, and the depth of their souls as companion beings in this life. I'm not a dog owner, I haven't been for many years. But I have owned and loved dogs and can remember their uncanny sensitivity to human emotion.
In this story, Enzo, the family dog is the primary character, and as the story begins, Enzo is at the end of his life and recounts for us, his life story. The primary people in his world are his master Denny, who is a race driver, his wife Eve who has health issues, and their daughter Zoe. It takes us through some significant challenges in the life of this family as the dog observes, participates and assists his charges.
I truly enjoyed this book. It was just so very different than anything I've read. If you know me at all, or have read my blog, you'll know that it touches on a level of spirituality that rings so true in my being, that I'm certain the book came to me on purpose...it was sent. Sent with messages. Here are a few of my favorite quotes by Enzo:
"I've always felt almost human. I've always known that there's something about me that's different than other dogs. Sure, I'm stuffed into a dog's body, but that's just the shell. It's what's inside that's important. The soul. And my soul is very human...."
"In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog's master whispers into the dog's ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. I learned that from a program on the National Geographic Channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready. I am ready."
"Here's why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak, so I listen very well. I never interrupt; I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another's conversations constantly. Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories."
And here is some wisdom from the author himself, Garth Stein:
"The Art of Racing in the Rain raises some difficult questions about life in general. The mantra that runs throughout the book is that 'the car goes where the eyes go', meaning that individuals create their own destiny. I believe that the energy each of us puts out to the world is returned to us. So are human beings ever really in control? On the deepest level, yes, we are. This is where the metaphor of the race car driving comes in. We have no one to blame but ourselves for our successes and failures. Luck is simply a dose of manifesting that is so massive, it seems to defy explanation. And misfortune, the other side of the coin? To say that our misfortune is our own fault may seem harsh, but misfortune is an energetic match for where we are in our lives at that moment. Have you ever noticed that when you have a bad day, one thing happens after another in a string of bad luck? That's because we are out of sync energetically with the universe. Can we pick ourselves up from tragedy and ascend to the greatest heights imaginable? I like to think so, yes. That's what makes life so wonderful!"