This bestseller features Enzo, the canine narrator with a philosopher's soul who unspools a tale about his owner Denny, a race-car driver who faces overwhelming obstacles as he navigates his career and family life.
...[a] moving third novel ... The metaphors may feel purposeful, but readers will nonetheless delight in Enzo’s wild, original voice; his aching insights into the limitations and joys of the canine and human worlds; and his infinite capacity for love. A natural choice for book clubs, this should inspire steady demand.
Garth Stein's third novel...is a fable with a heart ... it casts a sleeping spell on the readers' native cynicism and persuades us to dust off old questions about faith and humankind's better traits ... Enzo...is a hopeful agnostic, full of platitudes that would sink the novel if they appeared in a human protagonist's head. But because Stein's guileless writing style persuades us to suspend our disbelief for a canine narrator, he neatly delivers the heart and soul of his story in a philosophy we thought we were tired of hearing. It's magic, indeed.
Contradictory as it sounds, it is Enzo's humanity that carries The Art of Racing in the Rain. His musings on the limits of canine expression are so compelling that the early chapters whiz by ... Enzo isn't the problem in Stein's novel. People are the problem. And as the plot thickens around Denny Swift, Enzo's owner, the narrative arc starts to sag ... The mechanical failure of the book is caused by one of two things: a predictable plot that erodes character, or a poorly conceived character ill-equipped to drive a plot.
Denny's passivity in the first half of the novel sets up a chain of events from which Denny spends the second half of the novel extricating himself, all the while affirming his love for his family. But the reader isn't fooled. When things with the in-laws get ugly, Denny is surprised but the reader isn't ... To be sure, Stein is an able driver; he keeps his characters on track and steers the plot to a satisfying conclusion. But in this novel, anyway, he lacks that magic fusion of intuition, skill and grace needed to drive a truly great story home.