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A new middle-grade novel By Courtney Anz 

Copyright 2013-2015. Courtney Anz. All rights reserved. 

Young Adult Recommendation:

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Author Garth Stein is clearly a dog person and he delivered an exceptionally told story entirely from a dog’s perspective. I figure myself to be a dog person and mid-way through this book, I began talking to my own dogs far more deeply than I ever have before. That’s because, since reading “Racing,” I wondered if dogs understand just about everything we tell them – the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, they already do their best to make our world a better place.

Denny and Enzo are each other’s heroes. Enzo is Denny’s mutt dog and he delivers wonderful observations about humans throughout this heart-wrenching tale. Enzo’s appreciation for thumbs has to be one of the funniest things I have read in awhile. He observes that humans are most often more concerned about getting what they don’t have. As all dogs who have enjoyed a good sun beam know, enjoying the here and now is the secret to a peaceful life.

His owner Denny, is an aspiring race car driver and a mechanic trying to build a better life for his new bride Eve and soon, his baby girl Zoe. Enzo narrates their unfolding family life and ensuing tragedies. This is not a happily-ever-after story. But what it is, is a metaphorically built story of a loving father and husband who “drives the long race” to win against formidable enemies who betray him in the worst way possible.

Enzo witnesses it all, and in only the way a dog can, soothes and stands by his owner to the bitterest end. He holds Denny up on the highest totem. And when everyone else has given up, Enzo the dog finds a way to communicate to Denny that he still believes in him.

He is truly this man’s best friend.

I do recommend this book for the “mature” audience. I have a friend who worked in the Dallas Highland Park School District at the time that this book was temporarily banned from a High School reading list. Let’s put it this way: chances are, were this book to be made into a movie, it would probably be rated “R” for brief nudity, profanity and mature content. That being said, the story’s message is heroic. The Art of Racing in the Rain would serve as an excellent book for the High School level heroes’ journey discussion.

And a final warning: You will cry, cry, cry.