The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

September 2, 2013
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If I had to choose the character that I most identify with, it would be Zoe. Zoe appealed to me because when I was young my life resembled Zoe’s life a bit. My father and my maternal grandmother were not fond of each other, just like Zoe’s family. My parents divorced when I was five years old and I got to see my Dad less than I used to. This big change became the new normal and I did not understand why this was happening, just like Zoe. Since Zoe is only about five or six she does not have any qualities that I admire. One scene that expresses Zoe’s personality is when her Dad drops her off for her first day of kindergarten. Zoe’s father was reminding her to go to ‘Extended Day’ and to wait in the classroom so he could come and pick her up. Zoe was described as this: “The flashing eyes. The flared nostrils. The balanced stance and arms akimbo, the head cocked, ready for battle.” (114) This scene shows us that Zoe is a sweet girl that can fend for herself.

The main problem in the novel was that ‘The Twins’, or grandparents, were trying to take custody of Zoe away from Denny. Denny could not get custody back, because he was falsely accused of statutory rape. This required him to stay in the state, leading to him not being able to find a decent job with sufficient pay. Then, because of a lack of job, Denny cannot pay for gas, vet bills, his house, or his lawyers. Even when all seemed lost and he felt like giving up, Denny said that he would never give up, or stop fighting for his daughter. The custody battle was overcome in court. The girl that had lied and accused him of rape confessed to the judge in private. I would have approached this problem the same way. Denny was beaten into a corner, but whenever an animal is cornered, they have no choice but to fight, because flight is no longer an option. Denny is not a wild animal, but the theory still works for humans. If my life revolved around one person, I would never stop fighting or give up on them, because I know that they are worth all of the blood, sweat, and tears.
The most memorable scene from the novel is when Annika, who is a distant relation to Denny’s wife, tries to seduce Denny. Annika and Denny and Zoe were all together in the mountains for a big family reunion. During that week, Annika had developed a huge crush on Denny. And she, being only fifteen, foolishly thought that he was flirting with her when he was only being nice. A blizzard was coming and Denny was leaving for home when Annika invited herself for the journey. It was a very difficult and icy road that went on for ten hours. By the time they were home Denny was too exhausted to drive Annika home so she offered to stay with him for the night. While Annika was in the shower, Denny fell asleep on the bed with his clothes on because he was too tired to change. Annika entered his room in only a bathrobe, and soon that was off, and she stood there naked. While Denny was still sleeping she took off his sweatpants. Luckily Enzo barked loudly and aggressively to wake Denny. Denny was very angry and sent Annika home with her father without telling him. This scene is very important because Annika later falsely tells the authorities that Denny raped her. Those charges against Denny prevent him from winning the custody battle for a long time.

I think that Garth Stein’s message would be “That which we manifest is before us”. (43) This quote essentially means that we are the creators of our own destiny. Some examples would be Eve choosing not to go to the hospital even though she knows that there is something wrong with her. Also when Enzo chooses to act more humanlike because he believes that if he does then he will be reborn as a man. Another case is when Denny does not give up when all hope is lost while fighting for his daughter. And lastly it is Denny while he is racecar driving. He sees what he wants to happen on the tracks and then puts his thoughts into actions. I agree with the message of the story. I think that every one of our actions affects our lives in one way or another. Only we have the power to live our life and choose our own path.

“’There is no dishonor in losing the race,’ Don said. ‘There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.’” (277) I chose this quote because it basically keeps Denny going when he has no hope left. It boosts his spirits. This quote does have something to do with the moral of the story. If you never try, then you are letting somebody else create your destiny. Denny will never know if he would have won or not if he never tried.
The moral was very good and it is almost impossible to dislike Enzo. The moral can apply to anybody in life. For me, the book was not difficult to read, but it also was not super easy. I think that it is the perfect reading level. All of the characters that were supposed to be likeable were likeable; but they also seemed very human, no one was perfect, and because of this I could feel their emotions more than I would have if they were perfect.

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