Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the RainThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To say I loved this book is an understatement. I started dinner last night and then curled up on the couch to start this book while it simmered. Next thing, with my nose firmly buried in a book, I have completely forgotten dinner and it's burned to heck. Pause for a quick kitchen clean and nose back to book. Next thing I realize after that, through unstoppable sobs, is that it is now 11:45pm, completely dark and past bedtime, and I've just finished and closed the book.

This story is told by a human thinking dog named Enzo, and chronicles his life from puppyhood with Denny Swift, an aspiring race car driver, and eventually Denny's wife Eve and daughter Zoe. At times you forget that Enzo is a dog because he seems so insightful and observant but this is the very thing that snaps you back to realizing he is a dog....a person would never get away with much of the commentary he makes because people don't seem to like truth if it isn't what they want to hear, but truth is what Enzo is dishing out.

The "racing in the rain" is the backbone of the book's metaphors, beginning with Denny's excellent abilities at handling a race car on the wet track and the insights on this skill and other racing tidbits that he shares with Enzo over the years. Enzo then uses such insights as "when your eyes go, your car goes" and "that which you manifest will be" to remind us how very similar our lives are to the art of racing in the rain. The metaphors are intelligent, insightful, philisophical and simple enough to just sit and ponder without being down and insulting.

This is an amazing book, and one that I almost feel compelled to pick up and start reading over again today....but I might wait until dinner is off the stove this time....

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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood BibleThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had heard many times over what a wonderful book this was and it lived up to every word and more. Told by a mother and her 4 daughters, it chronicles their time spent as missionaries in the Congo, beginning in 1959 and the subsequent courses their lives follow after the experience.

Just the idea of a baptist minister from Georgia moving his wife and 4 girls to post-colonial Africa in 1959 is enough to catch your attention and it never stops there. Each character tells parts of the story from her point of view, complete with different manners of speach, gramatical, spelling and pronunciation errors and varying degrees of thought, caring and knowledge.

The differences in the characters, and how well they develop and share their lives with us, is the key to this book. Rachel is the oldest, and the most materialistic of the bunch. Leah and Adah are twins who could not be more different: Adah is the underdog, the disabled child, who is free with her thoughts because no one acknowledges that she has them while Leah is the model child, following in her father's theological path and must learn from her experiences to be free to think. Ruth Ann is the baby, the always impressionable youngest who is smart as a whip and quite impressioning herself. Together this group of girls brings you to a world that you could never imagine, and honestly don't want to. You love some, you hate some, you are indifferent to some, but everyone you meet throughough this story is memorable enough that you can at look back and know at least how you felt about them.

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