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Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2011
As someone who is involved with racing, I can tell that Garth has done his homework here. As a general animal-lover, I couldn't imagine how the title could relate to a dog. This is easy to read - short chapters that consolidate various thoughts and actions. In fact, I couldn't put it down. I read the entire thing in 2 sittings, starting on the flight home from a race, irritated that I had to turn my Kindle off during landing.

The story involves a guy who is an amateur racer - SCCA and that type - but still has a day job. He dreams of hitting the big time, and shares his thoughts and dreams with Enzo, his dog. The two share life's trials and tribulations, through Denny's marriage and what comes afterwards. All through Enzo's eyes.

The story takes some harsh and unhappy turns. I found myself thinking that it was a sad story, but after I finished, it somehow stayed with me. I kept thinking about it, and it grew on me. I ended up thinking what a great story it turned out to be. It does take a surprise turn at the last minute. I should have seen it coming, but didn't.

I would recommend this story, even if you're not a racer, or a dog. Easy to ready, good moral story, and more thought-provoking than you think it will be.
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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2012
I read this book in order to preview for my advanced-reader 3rd grader, knowing full well that this was an adaptation for young readers of an immensely popular adult novel that I had heard raved about. I have not read the original adult version, only this one (the kids' one).... Boy, am I glad I did! I, myself, loved the book (this one, for kids); it was a real tear-jerker, poignant, not really about a dog, liked it even though I'm not into car racing, etc. Everything all the 5-star reviewers said!

HOWEVER, the main premise of the story is so heavy and depressing, and I would imagine quite unsettling for the average 9-year-old, that I cannot fathom giving it to my children to read before they are at least in their teens. It does turn out happy in the end, which I'm glad for--otherwise I don't think I could have handled it myself--but it sure is a heck of a ride to get there. One that my children need not be exposed to at this point.

Here's my spoiling summary, in case you want to know what happens: It starts out with the dog old and decrepid and lying in a puddle of his own urine, near death, and ready to go--keep in mind he's got human thought processes being shared with the reader. Then it jumps back to the rest of the dog's life, during which the wife/mother ignores symptoms of a brain tumor, then finally gets diagnosed, the husband is duped into letting his wife live with her parents to live out her dying days (which turns out to be eight months), and even further duped into letting the kindergartner live with them too, under the guise of her spending more time with the dying mother. The husband is starting to be pushed out. Then, the moment the mother dies, the grandparents have the audacity to suggest the granddaughter would be better off living with them, and when the father refuses, they present lawsuit papers--suing for custody. When he rightfully freaks and leaves with her, they trump up child negligence charges (based on a host of prior things that have gone slightly wrong), the next day and he's arrested, and eventually spends 3 years, without his daughter, fighting the custody suit, the negligence charges, going broke, selling his house, etc. Restraining order prevents him from attending his own wife's funeral, life is crap for the guy and the dog. Then, the dog gets hit by a car. He fractures his pelvis, and is never as mobile after that, develops terrible arthritis in his hips, and eventually you're back to the dying dog. The father gets the girl back, the dog dies, and the two humans (father and daughter) live happily ever after. But like I said, quite a ride to get there.

Anyway, I'm really torn on number of stars, because, really, I think this book is TERRIBLE for the "middle grades" audience. At least the younger middle grades. Maybe a mature eighth grader could handle it. But not my sweet third grader. Not 8-12 material, if you ask me. Don't be fooled but the "cute dog tells a story" setup, or the dogs and race cars theme. This is a HEAVY book. HOWEVER, I did LOVE it myself, so there you go. One for the intended audience, five for me, makes three.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 15, 2011
Racing in the Rain, My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein

This is a painfully poignant story narrated by a dog. If you like soupy books and love dogs, prepare your reading time with a full box of tissues.

This is the story of a family and their dog. A dog that just knows that his next revolution on the wheel of creation he is going to have opposable thumbs and vocal cords uses his insight and narrative skills to tell the story.

The story is moving and characterizes the value of perseverance, patience and tenacity. Love can not conquer all but love can sustain life. Driving race cars provide Denny and Enzo metaphors for living their lives. This story can teach compassion and a willingness to help others.

This is purported to be a kid's book and admittedly the reading level is hardly taxing. However it is emotionally charged and could be a bit intense for the younger reader. (Remember Ole Yeller?)

Although this book could easily be read by the literate first grader I would not recommend it for the primary grades. I think it would be fine for the upper elementary grades and on up. I enjoyed it but then there have always been questions regarding my maturity level.

I recommend the book, it is inspiring, sad and satisfying.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2011
I loved the adult version "The Art of Racing in the Rain", it's a book that will forever be on my keeper shelf! It was such a wonderful story that I was so excited to get this version for my son. He is a mature 12 year old but I felt more comfortable with him reading this one. He just keeps telling me how great of a book it is!! I will admit that both of us cried but it left us with smiles on our faces and an overall sense of happiness!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2011
This is the **CHILDRENS BOOK VERSION** which is exactly what I needed but its not made very clear in the description. Make sure you search for "art" in the title to find the regular version. That is all.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This book came highly recommended by a friend. And while my husband and I both loved the story, I really don't think it was intended to be a children's book. As an elementary reading teacher, I think my students would be very disturbed by some of the subject matter in the story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2012
Enzo is the funniest and most lovable dog you would ever meet. Enzo is special because he longs to be human with opposable thumbs and be able to race cars instead of chase them. Enzo gains most of his racing knowledge by watching TV which Denny leaves on all day for Enzo to watch, and he also loves to listen to Denny talk about racing and his knowledge. Denny could be a pro race car driver soon and he knows the art of racing more than a lot of people, especially the art of racing in the rain.

From all the troubles in the family Enzo quickly learns that life is like racing and the biggest lesson he learns is that life is not just about going fast, just like racing. Enzo becomes loved by everyone in the family and is like a hero they say. He helps Denny through the hard times of Eve, Denny's wife dying and Eve's parents (the evil twins) trying to sue Denny for everything he has and they try go get him put in jail and take full custody of Zoe. Enzo also saves the family from the evil Zebra or the devil, and he teaches a big lesson-there is a devil everywhere but you can not let him take over and you have to stay strong which is what Enzo did throughout the book and at the end he was especially strong.

Before Enzo dies he hangs onto the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with his daughter right by his side. This is an extraordinary friendship and it reminds us all of the human and canine spirit.

This book is important to the world and to my life because a lot of people can relate to this. A lot of people have had friendships like this with their pet and it is just so sad when you lose them. I have had this experience myself with my dog dying two Christmas's ago and I remember how sad I was and how sad my family was because we had such a good relationship with this dog and we loved him very much, we felt exactly how Denny felt. The book had many strengths, a couple were how touching this book was and how much I could visualize what was going on and I actually felt like a dog, like Enzo. It was such a good book and I don't think there were any weaknesses. The way the author writes affects the story because he writes it through first person but it's through a dog's eyes so everything in the book is in the perspective of a dog.

"You've always been with me," Denny says to me.
"You've always been my Enzo." ....
"It's okay," he says to me. "If you need to go now, you can go."

That quote just shows how much of a heart-felt book this was and how much love there was in Denny and Enzo's relationship, how much they loved each other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2013
This book was purchased by my 10 year old daughter, after reading some mixed reviews on that it is sad and depressing and maybe not suitable for her age I was a little skeptical, we have a 3 year old Yellow Lab and I am sure thats why she picked this book without realizing it maybe a little sad. I decided to read ahead of her to make sure it wouldnt be something she couldnt handle. I finished this book in 3 days, and while sad in some parts its definitley one of my favorites , it teaches adversity and some great life lessons. I tell everyone about this book and would highly recommend for kids 10 and up.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2011
A friend at work recommended this book. As a dog lover, thought I would take a chance and order it. Excellent choice. After the first chapter, I will never look at my dog the same way again (you will understand this after you read it). Finished the book in one day and I have passed it on to dog and non-dog lover friends that I have. All have enjoyed this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2011
I was elated to discover that one of my favorite books of all time was being adapted for middle-grade readers. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a book that I longed to share with my students, but knew the content was much too mature for 6th graders. Alas, this new adaptation has made it appropriate for kids in grades 4-8.

This book will make you laugh, it will make you smile, and inevitably, just like almost every other dog book out there, it will make you cry. But you already know the tears will come before you even get past the first chapter because the very first scene in the book is Enzo as an ailing dog, discussing his own morality.

Because this is adapted from an already published book, the story doesn't flow as seamlessly as the original. The primary conflict is a bit more vague and ambiguous due to the amount of content that had to be deleted to make it appropriate for younger readers. I also worry that younger readers won't identify with the story because it revolves around a thirty-something man and the demise of his family. Kids generally like to read stories about kids so I'm not sure how well they will respond to Denny as a protagonist (no matter how inherently good he is).

Even with the criticism of what the book is lacking, the heart of the book is still there and that is the voice of Enzo the dog. He is such a unique, heartfelt narrator and kids really do deserve to hear his voice. That is the main reason why I was so pleased when I discovered that Stein decided to adapt this book for young readers. Not to mention the fact that this will be a book I can put in the hands of boys because of the racing aspect.

Overall, I would say that if you have kids who you know like dogs and also racing, shove this book in their hands and they will devour it.
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