The Art of Racing in the Rain is a tale of looking back at one's life through a dog's point of view. Enzo the dog belongs to Denny Swift, who works at a Seattle auto dealership to pay the bills but is also an up and coming race car driver. The book is narrated by Enzo during the final moments of his life, as he recalls what he has learned by watching television and taking as much of a passion for race car driving as his owner, applying principles from racing to real life. Enzo's narration follows the life of Denny, his wife Eve and their daughter Zoe over several years.
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Enzo believes there is an afterlife for dogs and the beginnings of the novel features him discussing this. He learned about the possibility of dogs coming back to life as other beings from a television show, and since he is suffering from multiple illnesses, he decides to embark on a spiritual journey that retells his life so he can be better prepared to come back.
He begins this journey by discussing his early memories when he arrives home with Denny. Eve, Denny's deceased wife, was still in their life and she became pregnant with Zoe. Zoe is born and Denny becomes preoccupied with her and his new family. One day he is so busy he accidentally forgets to turn off the television. This is the day Enzo learns how fascinating TV is and what he can learn from it.
The possibility of Denny's career as a race car driver taking off is great for Denny, but it could mean lots of time away from the family. This isn't good for Enzo either, as wife Eve forgets him home alone for several days, angering Denny. Similar family arguments take place among them and Denny takes to hard liquor to ease his worries. While Denny is away, Enzo takes an interest in baby Zoe and enjoys her company. Denny's career as a race car driver does take off, but Eve becomes sick with a terminal illness. Denny has an accident on the race track and quits racing professionally.
Eve's illness worsens and she eventually needs around the clock care. A dispute about how to care for her arises with Denny's in-laws. Eve passes and her parents then decide to sue for custody of their grandchild Zoe. Denny has also become involved in a legal battle over criminal charges brought against him in the state of Washington.
Enzo continues to learn more about Denny's home life to better understand his human friend. His mother was blind since Denny was young. When he became an adult, Denny expressed an interest in leaving home, but his father wanted him to stay to take care of the family. Denny eventually left and the relationship became strained.
While battling Eve's parents, Denny makes himself busy by taking a teaching job at a local driving school. Eventually his legal problems resolve and his in-laws stop pursuing custody of Eve.
Best part of story, including ending:
Enzo's character is very evocative. It's not hard to imagine him as the "talking dog" in a popular movie or mini series.
Best scene in story:
Enzo describes his many medical conditions much like a grumpy old man would. He discusses how his medications aren't working and why this is a sign that it's now more important than ever to take a look back at his life before he passes.
Opinion about the main character:
Enzo describes life with Denny and Zoe in a manner that is both poignant and entertaining.