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The Art of Racing in the Rain
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October 2020: Animals > The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - 3 stars

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Teodora Paslaru | 149 comments I must admit that I stared for a while at the still empty stars, thinking How do I rate it?. In the end, I decided on three stars for the reasons I'll explain in this review.

First, I'll start by saying that this book included two of the things I don't consider myself a fan of: dogs and racing (while I can't say I dislike dogs, I'm definitely a cat person, and I never cared for cars and racing). However, the dog POV didn't bother me (I guess by now everybody knows this book follows a dog's point of view), and I found the parts about racing one of the best-written parts of the book. I still don't care about racing, but I think it was great the way the author used it as a metaphor for life.

For the first half and something of this book, I only cried. I am a crier, so it's not so surprising, but this time there were big tears and even sobs. Also, a crushing sensation in my chest. I'll admit, the subject of illness and dying, which this book deals with in the first half (it's not a spoiler, more like a trigger warning; also, one would discover soon after starting this book that it involves this; what's surprising is what comes on the second half) is a sensitive subject for me, especially at the moment. My tears are not surprising, and they definitely have a positive side: they serve as proof that the author knew how to create emotion. The negative part is that I didn't want these emotions at the moment, but this is on me, and it didn't affect my writing for this book.

The problem was that, as the book continued, I reached a point where I asked myself What? Is this character the most unlucky person that can exist on earth? I know, I know. I, myself, have been a blessed person who has suffered few (if any) misfortunes. I know there are people who have it bad from life. Yet... As Dany was hit with difficulty after difficulty, I began to think this was a little... unrealistic. They were too many. Too close together. Hit after hit after hit. There is another problem - and this one is subjective - that I like books that offer readers moments of respite. I need them, or I'll feel too overwhelmed. I know this is not a problem most readers have, so those who aren't like me would probably love this aspect of the book.

The writing was good, oscillating between great at times, and too simple other times. There were moments when it reminded me of Anthony Doerr, but apart from those, I don't think I was Stein's intended audience. This doesn't mean other people won't love this book, as it is generally well-loved. However, it didn't seem right to me to rate it higher simply based on the fact that others loved it. The only thing I want to say is Don't let my rating stop you from reading it. Maybe if I would've read it in a worse reading year, I would've rated it higher, but this year I've read some amazing books, and this doesn't stand as tall when compared to those.

I picked this book after someone told me they found it surprising, making them both laugh and cry at the same time. Yes, it was surprising at times, but there were only tears for me. This doesn't mean it would be the same for the others.

However, after finishing this book, I feel like I need recommendations for romantic comedies. Preferably with a cat!

message 2: by Cora (last edited Oct 09, 2020 06:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cora (corareading) | 1417 comments I had the same exact feelings about this book. It was well written, just too much sadness.

message 3: by NancyJ (last edited Oct 09, 2020 09:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5671 comments I'm sorry you didn't like it more. I really loved it. I probably saw the dog as the main characters as opposed to the race car driver. I loved his approach to life. This book also ties in with another book about a race car driver named Enzo.

Robin P | 1919 comments I agree with you, Teodora. I liked the dog's point of view but I felt emotionally manipulated by the author. When everything just kept getting worse, I had to jump ahead to see if things would eventually improve. Otherwise I would have quit. I seem to remember that just about everybody in the book was a jerk except for the hero, the kid, and of course the dog.

I am not a dog person either, but I love the humorous dog-narrated Chet & Bernie mysteries, starting with Dog on It.

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