Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I know, this is late for the book that I read in April. And actually, that's something of a misnomer--"read."

April was a month of re-discovering free time for me. But what I'm still finding to be true is that I've had such a dearth of it for so long and I have so many things that I need to work on or want to do that my free time at night is about 1 1/2-2 hours and it's full full full full full of stuff. Suddenly, it's 9:30 at night and I kick myself again thinking, "Drat, I wanted to read tonight."

It was about 1/2 way through April and I hadn't really begun any new reading project when my kids started talking about this book, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Not only were they talking, but they were raving about this book, even kids who I know are non-readers. That sounded like high enough praise, so I tracked down a copy and dug in.

Actually, there's wasn't much to dig into, unfortunately. It's not as bad of a book as I'm going to make it seem, but here's my honest take on it.

It has flaws:
*The writing is often crass and at times monotonous. Sometimes, there are passages of poignant writing, but...
*The narrator is a dog. And this isn't Watership Down.
*There's a ton of detail about open car and open wheel racing (are those the same? I'm not even sure.) I like sports, but...
*This means that the whole philosophy of the book is based on fairly cliched sports truisms. Which makes the crass writing sometimes smarmy.
*The technical writing is around an 8th grade writing level, but...
*The content is definitely adult at times, which means that the content doesn't really match the intended audience. Bedroom scenes (yeah, plural), really?!?

Ultimately, I didn't have any desire to finish it even though it's a quick read and I was 2/3 of the way through. I found myself irritated with every character. There wasn't a single one that redeemed the book in my eyes. I mean, every character had flaws that were loathsome if not disgusting, the only exceptions being the dog (super crass) and the little girl (a flat character who wasn't even likable).

I'm not a person who has huge issues with the reading that is taught in schools. If anything, I'm the very opposite of that person, but still, I have issues with this book. I can see how kids would like it, but what are we sacrificing by using it? Morals? Propriety?

It could have been a great book...

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