“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is a strong statement about humanity—a positive statement, I would argue.
So much of this book is incredibly important for people to think about: family, loyalty, love, death. The messages that Stein sends are beautiful and significant.
We’ve all wondered what our dogs think about. How much of what happens around them they actually understand? I think this book has a very interesting take on it: the fact that our dogs might be more sophisticated with their thoughts and feelings than we really think they are is intriguing and thought-provoking.
I found this book to be strangely raunchy for a novel that’s narrated by a dog; I think I was expecting innocence, and perhaps naiveness, from Enzo—or, at the very least, indifference. I suppose mating is one of a dog’s natural instincts, it felt very strange for me to read Enzo’s innuendo-esque comments on Denny and Eve’s bedroom activities. I’m glad that those comments were at least able to stay PG-13, for the sake of the narrator and the themes that this book is trying to bring forward.
And those themes are very well-developed. You never really think about some of the things that humans do for how silly they really are.
Using a dog’s point of view to make statements about humanity is genius; it’s only through the eyes of a dog who wants to be human, who observes humans every day, that we realize how flawed and yet still wonderful humanity actually is. We think that dogs are creatures of habit, but maybe it’s us who make them that way.
At times, though, I felt like Enzo was a little too human-like. Stein is making some powerful statements about humanity, family, and love in this book, but those statements only really work if they’re being observed by someone outside of humanity itself. Sometimes Enzo teetered on the line between authenticity as a dog and what Stein imagined his mind to be capable of.
Denny, Eve, and Zoe feel like very real characters, and that’s a big part of what made this book work for me. This poor fictional family has all of my pity.
I found this to be a very enjoyable novel, even as heartbreaking as it is.