The Art of Racing in the Rain is a 2008 novel written by Garth Stein.
The story concerns Denny, an aspiring racecar driver. He meets and marries Eve, a bubbly, happy young woman. Together they have a daughter, Zoey. Things go well for the family for about six years before Eve unexpectedly dies from cancer. Denny is then forced to battle Eve's parents for custody of Zoey, all while trying to balance his burgeoning career and several unexpected legal troubles.
What makes the book unique is that it's not the told from Denny's perspective, or Zoey's, or even Eve's parents. The narrator is actually Enzo, Denny's dog. He provides commentary on the events as they happen and offers a unique perspective only a dog can provide. Along with Denny's main plot is Enzo's subplot about the belief that if he's prepared enough, he'll return after he dies as human.
It remained a bestseller on The New York Times for three years straight. Stein has written two other versions of the book: a YA adaption for elementary/middle school students, and a picture book for young children.
A film adaption was released on August 9, 2019.
This book provides examples of:
- Covers Always Lie: The book describes Enzo as a lab mixnote , but most covers have a golden retriever on them. The film also uses a golden retriever.
- Death by Newbery Medal: It's a Foregone Conclusion that Enzo dies, since he reveals at the beginning that the story is essentially him reminiscing on his life during his last days.
- Excited Show Title!: The kid's version: Enzo Races in the Rain!
- Everyone Has Standards: Annika was willing to use a False Rape Accusation on Denny as revenge for not falling in love with her, but after realizing how Eve's parents were using her to gain custody of Zoey, as well as how miserable Denny would be without Zoey, she drops the charges.
- False Rape Accusation: Annika, one of Eve's teenage cousins, tries to get Denny to fall in love with her by taking off her clothes in his presence. He sternly tells her to stop and drives her home. When he tries to battle Eve's parents for custody of Zoey, they get Annika to say he raped her. However, after learning how miserable he is without Zoey, she drops the (false) charges.
- Lighter and Softer: The YA and kid's versions of the novel cut some of the more mature content from the main book, such as Annika's false rape allegations against Denny and the infamous scene where Enzo imagines Zoey's stuffed zebra sexually assaulting her other toys. This same treatment is applied to the movie, where Annika is Adapted Out altogether, and this particular plotline is changed to a confrontation between Danny and Maxwell getting physical, resulting in the latter getting pushed into a pillar when he tries to attack Danny, and culminating in Maxwell filing charges for assault and using said incident as a pretense to take custody of Zoey. Likewise, Enzo's hallucination is changed to the stuffed zebra tearing apart its fellow stuffed brethren before it tears itself to pieces.
- Mature Animal Story: The Art Of Racing In The Rain is from a dog's POV but it includes dark topics, such as a False Rape Accusation. It has toned down versions for younger audiences.
- Reincarnation: A major theme of the book, as Enzo believes if he's prepared enough, he'll come back as a human after he dies. The epilogue reveals he actually does and even gets to meet Denny again.
- Shout-Out: Enzo is named after Enzo Ferarri, the world-renown sportscar marquee.
- Xenofiction: The book is told from the viewpoint of a dog.