Normally I go for books that have a gunfight or two in it, tough guys being tough guys, and books that sheer away from taking too hard a look at the human experience. Maybe that’s why I hate this book. Wait, wrong choice of words there.
I disliked this book because it wasn’t shallow. It made me cheer with the triumphs of the people in it. It made me laugh. And it made me cry.
And all of it is told from the perspective of a creature that humans have had an association with for untold centuries. The story teller is a dog named Enzo. His master is a man named Denny Swift, and he races cars. The title comes from Denny not being afraid when it rains on the track because he knows how to race in it, and that being prepared is everything.
But his race car driving doesn’t prepare him for what life tosses at him. His wife, Eve, develops brain cancer and dies, leaving him a single parent. Enzo knew Eve was sick long before she knew. But there was nothing he could do except be there for her. After she dies, Enzo is there for Denny and his daughter Zoe.
Now another of the other reasons I hated the book. It held a mirror up to me. Enzo the dog sees us as something noble. He doesn’t understand politics. He has no concept of the horrible forces around us that dictate our lives. Like us, he doesn’t understand what’s going on half the time. But what he has to offer is something worth learning.
Enzo believes if he’s properly prepared, when he dies, he becomes one of us. He becomes human.
I had to wonder at a character who isn’t human, and wonder why they’d want to join the Human Race. With all out failings, our hatreds, and our problems, Enzo saw something in us worth being part of. If that’s the case, we sure could use a couple dozen Enzos on this rock.
I guess that through the eyes of a dog, I saw hope.
What I also saw was what Enzo could do. He couldn’t fix the problems (though in a way he did). He couldn’t offer words of comfort, but just being there was enough. I think he had simple love, a trait that we tend to over complicate.
They say a story is supposed to change you. I hope this one did. When I closed the book, I had one prayer on my lips, “God, I hope I’m the guy my dog thinks I am. And if I’m not, let me become that guy. And while I’m at, let me learn to love like my dog loves me. Simply.”