Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain reaches beyond the animal lover or racing lover. Instead, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a consuming read for men and women alike. Creatively, narration is provided by Enzo, the terrier/lab mutt chosen at twelve weeks by the protagonist, Denny. Enzo welcomes the reader into the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his own life as well as the life of his master. Without giving too much away, the majority of Stein’s novel is a realistic tearjerker causing one to evaluate the treatment of his own life as well as others which then concludes on an almost fairy-tale note.
Problems for me, the reader, ensued with the late introduction of Denny’s parents. Their physical presence in the novel occupying only one chapter read as an afterthought. Further explanation surrounding the parents only reaffirmed the notion that either more elaboration was needed, or the interjection of the parents should have been deemed unnecessary and distracting during editing.
In regards to book club, this is one where man’s best friend should be not only welcome, but master or mistress of ceremonies. The ideal setting would be a dog park such as Rock Springs Park in O’Fallon, IL. If book club members are not owners of the four-legged friend, simply being near these canines at the park would set the mood. Plenty of dog biscuits must be brought along to share with the dogs, and a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies made in the same manner as Denny- plopped onto the cookie sheet- to share with the humans completes the ambiance and hopefully gives chase to a conversational treat. Garth Stein
Busy with my oldest squirt soon graduating preschool, I have, though, been keeping The Love Dare at the top of my “must-read” pile on my nightstand. Keeping Day 1, patience, repeatedly at the front of my mind, I simply nodded agreeably when the hub told me as he was walking out the door for work that the air conditioner was broken, and I needed to call someone. Realizing why I woke in a pool of sweat, I made the call and waited patiently in 90 degree weather with two preschoolers wearing their fussy pants.
Day 2, love is kind, asks the reader to perform a random act of kindness towards his/her spouse. Thus, I decided to mow and weed whack the lawn for my beloved in 92 degree weather. As fate would have it, my mother was in town and able to occupy my two squirts, so I was able to complete the task before the hub returned from work. Working in the peak heat of the day, the task was complete, but I was soon sitting with my head between my too pale legs and cool washcloths on the back of my neck.
Continuing on to the next dare, I am instructed to make a purchase for my spouse that translates to, “I was thinking of you today.” This is a challenge. My hub has no desire for material things. He enjoys playing the electric guitar, but I am musically illiterate, so a purchase in that department was out of the question. Stumped. . . As luck would have it, though, I decided to peruse the grocery aisle of the local farm supply store. To my delight, I spied some “Hanky Panky” (honestly, printed on the package) chocolate drizzle caramel corn with peanuts. Score 1 for me! As I made a beeline for the check-out, I spotted green apple, a favorite flavor of the hub, licorice. At this point, I was doing the happy dance on the inside, and I’m sure the young lady checking me out wondered what the deal was with my goofy smile.
Finally, Day 4, love is thoughtful. On a roll, I e-mail the hub the following sweet nothing, “Today, I love you.” Not . . . “What is your e.t.a. for arriving home because the kiddos have gone wild?” . . . not “Hurry!” . . . not “The humanity . . . ,” but instead a line that summarizes my heart.
A film that brings tears to your eyes: The Blind Side.
Describe your first kiss: I don’t remember my first kiss, but fortunately I can recall the last one in complete sensory detail – sweet and romantic.
Your favorite children’s book, and why: My favourite children’s book changes day by day. But an old favourite is Enid Blyton’s The FarawayTree. I love the world that Blyton built and how it feeds our imaginations.
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why: Children’s literacy is of huge importance to me. I love to read, write, create and educate myself. I believe many of the world’s ills could be solved by such education, particularly encouraging parents to read to their kids. And the thought of libraries closing due to lack of funding absolutely appals me.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be? I would be Anne in Anne of Green Gables.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held. My worst job was being Latrine Officer in a children’s camp. When one of the kids dropped her gold watch into the pit, it was my job to fetch it back for her. I came to fully understand the meaning of trust as I was lowered by my ankles.
A quote that motivates you:“It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life.” (Barthold Georg Niebuhr)
The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island: “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside” – in the hope that such a positive affirmation will help me withstand the solitude!
1. For me: I wish, oh how I wish, that I could draw.
2. For my family and friends: health and happiness.
3. For the world: an end to greed.
Favorite game you played as a child: Imaginative games – roleplaying Robin Hood and building cubbies in the bush so we could spy on the Sheriff.
A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .Steel Magnolias
Describe your first kiss. Quick, a little bit scary, sweet
Your favorite children's book, and why . . .Harry the Dirty Dog, because I read
it to my son approximately 1,254,999 times
A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .Stopping domestic abuse,
because my mother died at the hands of my stepfather.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be? Beth Thomas,
because she never loses sight of who she is or her core values
Explain the worst job that you've held. Making boxes, midnight shift.
A quote that motivates you . . .“You did then what you knew how to do, And when
you knew better, You did better.” Maya Angelou
The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Wow, so many choices! Til I Gain Control Again - Blue Rodeo
1. I wish all my children health and happiness
2. No more mistreated, lonely, broken, abandoned, hurting children
3. I would like for more people to read my book (selfish wish)
Favorite game you played as a child . . .hopscotch
My first kiss: seventh grade on the back of a school bus - sooo not romantic :(
Favorite children's book: I loved Pokey the Puppy. I always wanted a dog like him.
Favorite character from a novel: Melanie from Gone With the Wind. She was pure goodness!
Quote that motivates me: Success is the best revenge. (I consider being happy a great success.)
1) My children to be happy.
2) For my husband and I to retire together and travel.
3) For people to be kind to one another.
The one song I would want on my iPod if on a deserted island: can't pick one song for my island living. But I would love to listen to the Eagles while I'm sippin' on my fruity drink!
Also, the book I'd take on the island: To Kill A Mockingbird
Favorite game as a child: I loved playing Chinese checkers. My mom taught me. My siblings and I would put on our pajamas and play a few games before we went to bed. That was many, many years ago, and the thought brings tears to my eyes.
Yesterday was one of those days which would have gone a lot better if I could have stayed in bed all day. Having two squirts eliminated this as an option unfortunately. A highlight of the day . . . I thought I would be not only politically correct by purchasing the glass bottle of milk versus the plastic jug, but also fulfilling my aspirations of being an extreme “couponer” because the sign flying proudly in front of the product read that I could return empty bottles to customer service for $1.50 refund. Thus, the advertisement effectively lured me in and captured my attention. Beaming with eco-friendly pride, I proceeded to the check-out with a restless three-year-old in tow. Attempting to occupy the preschooler, I had her assist me in placing the items on the conveyor belt, yet I sensed trouble loomed 5 feet in front of me. The man ahead of me in the process of checking out received troubling news that the cash register had gone blank. The checker requested help, and the manager attempted to remedy the problem by removing a panel and crawling beneath the register. Beads of sweat began to form on my forehead as I realized I had limited time- we were due to pick my other child up from preschool. I decided to break grocery shopping etiquette by quickly dumping my breakfast sausages, Cardinals purse (impulse purchase, but too cute), prized milk, and the like back into the cart and made a beeline for the 20 items or less checker. Knowing I could not conceal my overflowing cart, I opted to plead with the checker for the sake of my child needing to be picked up from school. Checker sympathy ensued, and I was soon loading eco-unfriendly plastic bags (left the reusable ones in the car) into the trunk. Despite the obstacles, we arrived safely at home where I hurriedly began to carry bags inside. As if deemed inevitable by fate, the plastic bag housing the glass bottle of milk tore and, literally, milk was spilt all over my garage floor. Determined to make lemonade of lemons, or in this case, rising above the loss of $1.50 refund, I sopped up the white liquid with sheet after sheet of paper towels knowing I single-handedly hurt the environment probably more so due to my failed attempts to save it.
However, with yesterday coming to a close, I nearly tripped on a book jutting out from beneath my bed. Retrieving the dusty piece from the floor, I realized I bought The Love Dare, a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love, with honest intentions, but failed to read and participate in its journey. Opening to page 1, I see Day 1 reminds us that love is patient. An appropriate theme given yesterday’s events. Follow and share with me in this challenge, but, “Shhhhhhh! Don’t tell my hub!” The Love Dare