This book was recommended to me while I still worked at the book store by a local physician. He promised me that I would never look at a dog the same way again, and he was right. It quickly became one of my favorite reads and one of my Swiss Army picks when giving recommendations to people.
The entire story is told through the eyes of a dog named Enzo. Enzo is dying, and he is reviewing his life and all that he has learned. He believes that he is near the last stage of the reincarnation cycle, and the last stage is human. He is desperate to learn and remember everything he can about being human, in hopes that it will give him an advantage in his next life.
Enzo has a master named Denny Swift who is a race car driver. Enzo tells the story of his life with Denny, as Denny traverses life from single to married to children and beyond, and relates it to all that he has learned about racing.
The novel just touched a part of me I didn’t even know I had. It was so lovely and sweet, yet sad at the same time. I laughed out loud at Enzo trying to understand what it is like to be human and how hard life would be without opposable thumbs. I cried when life took unexpected turns for Denny and Enzo, and how Enzo learned the downsides of being human and how much we can hurt and feel.
The writing is so beautiful, and I found myself loving the racing philosophies, a topic I know nothing about, yet it added such a uniquely wonderful element. I am more of a cat lover than a dog fan, but I loved watching life through Enzo’s eyes, and could envision any animal really trying to understand human behaviour and thoughts and feelings. I can also admit that I cried at the ending, it’s a five alarm snot-bomb so make sure you have tissues handy, but for a pet lover it still was the best ending imaginable! It left me with a magnificent feeling of hope for any pet. Stein was able to really convey that life simply isn’t about going fast!