Book reviews

Posts tagged ‘Garth Stein’

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein


I don’t ordinarily read novels narrated by animals, mostly because I’m still getting over sobbing through Black Beauty forty years ago. I don’t even like reading books about animals, although I do remember howling at the end of Charlotte’s Web, (again, approximately forty years ago) and feeling aggravated by the unfairness of everything when I had to read Animal Farm in school. Thirty-five years later, that whole thing about some animals being more equal than other animals in Animal Farm still gets up my nose.

However, I had already read How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein and really enjoyed it, so thought I would give The Art of Racing in the Rain a try, even though the story is told by a dog. Sure enough, I found myself sitting up too late on a work night and crying over an animal’s life story yet again…

Enzo is an old dog, in pain and anxious for his death. He is hoping to be reincarnated in his next life as a man, but needs his master Denny to recognise that the time has come to euthanize him. While he waits, Enzo reflects on his life with Denny.

Enzo worships Denny. He has spent his life learning from watching television and from listening to Denny, who is a racing-car driver. They watch videos of races together, and Enzo listens and learns from Denny’s comments and advice on car racing. Enzo also dearly loves racing. A highlight of Enzo’s life occurred when Denny took him to a race track and he experienced hot laps as a passenger in a race car.

When Denny first met Eve, who was to become his wife, Enzo was jealous of their relationship, (and Eve’s thumbs), but by the time Denny and Eve’s daughter Zoe was born, Enzo was won over by the additions to their family. Apart from Eve’s family thinking that she could have done better, their family was happy, until Eve got sick. Together, Enzo and Deny go through heart-wrenching trials.

Enzo and Denny’s story is told so beautifully that I did not want this book to end. My only complaint was that Enzo never had a love life or puppies of his own.

As per How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, I can easily imagine The Art of Racing in the Rain being made into a movie that I would want to see.




How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein


How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein is the story of Evan, a man in his early thirties who has never had to grow up. Ten years ago, Evan had a one hit wonder with his band. These days, Evan still plays his guitar with his new band, and works casually in a music shop.

The story begins when Evan attends the funeral of his high school girlfriend, who died in a car crash. After the funeral, Evan meets his 14 year old son Dean for the first time since Dean was a baby. When Dean’s grandfather attempts to beat Dean in an inexplicable burst of anger, Evan takes off with his son.

Evan and Dean start to get to know each other, although Evan keeps the fact that he has epilepsy a secret from Dean.

As the story evolves, Evan meets Mica, a highly successful musical engineer. She becomes Evan’s girlfriend after engineering a recording session for his band.

Evan’s not a bad bloke, although he has never committed to anyone or anything. He took no responsibility for his son until the situation forced him to, even though he is in his thirties he goes out of his way to annoy his parents and he blames his younger brother for the accident which caused his epilepsy.

The developing relationship between Evan and Dean is often rocky and Evan finds being a parent to be difficult. The story is told almost entirely from Evan’s point of view, so when other characters contradict what Evan believes, it can come as a shock, to him and to the reader.

I enjoyed this story, (raced through it actually), and was pleased that all of the characters grow and learn as the story develops, which was satisfying. The only character I really struggled with was Mica. She really had her act together, which made it difficult to understand why she fell in love with Evan. The author provides an explanation for Mica’s choice later in the story, but I still struggled with believing it.

How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets is an entertaining story, although it would probably make a better movie than a book. I would go and see it. The soundtrack would probably be great too.





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