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Enzo is not like other dogs.  He is so much more than a simple companion or the very cliched description of dogs as being “man’s best friend.”  No, Enzo is more like that little voice in the back of your head that tells you what’s right and what’s wrong because he really understands what’s going on.  Although Enzo is only a dog, he understands pain and suffering, love and loss, life and death more than some humans I know.  Oh, and he wants nothing more than to become a human so he can race cars in the rain like his master, Denny.  Enzo is like a superdog – he despises his primal habits and wishes more than anything to be refined and have opposable thumbs like humans.  Still, he does well for himself in his current dog form.  He cares for his family: Denny, Eve and Enzo in the best ways he knows how.  Sure, he wishes he could do more, but in so many ways he changes their lives without even realizing it.

I knew I was different from other dogs.  I had a certain willpower that was strong enough to overcome my more primal instincts. (37)

The books begins with Enzo sharing his plan; a plan he devised from watching TV documentaries about dogs in Mongolia.  Enzo is going to die; willingly die; so that he can become a man.  Once he becomes a man, he is going to find Denny and his daughter Zoe and tell them “Enzo says hi” so that they know what he has accomplished.  A strange way to begin a book, but effective.  It drew me in and I was hooked.  After sharing his plan, Enzo recalls everything he has experienced in his dog life: the wonderful life he lived with Denny, Eve, and Zoe.  The story that unfolds is an amazingly pure, beuatiful story about life.  It doesn’t always turn out the way you planned, but if you fight for what you believe in, you can get your happy ending.

There is no dishonor in losing the race.  There is only dishonor in not racing becuase you are afraid to lose (277)

The books is filled with amazing insights and racing metaphors that are both strikingly brilliant and insightful.  I found these pieces to be especially enjoyable.  Enzo learns so much about racing from Denny and he relates his lesson to the events he sees unfolding before him.  The story might not have been the most captivating, but seeing the events unfold through Enzo’s eyes was a special, unexpected treat.  He took what could have been a mundane story and turned it into a beautiful lesson with witty anecdotes that will stay with me for a long time.  Plus, I loved the piece about racing.  Enzo praised Denny for his racing skills and loved to watch the races on TV with (or without) Denny.  He studied them and admired all the subtle maneuvers that frequently go right over people’s heads.  I think it is these pieces of the story that made this book spectacular.  Maybe not the most original story ever, but the point of view definitely kept it from becoming mundane.  After reading it, I can assure you I want nothing more than to go out and buy a dog!

And now, because they were so incredibly poignant, I will share some of my favorite Enzo wisdom:

That which you manifest is before you (41)

Your car goes where your eyes go (94)

It makes one realize that the physicality of our world is a boundary to us only if our will is weak; a true champion can accomplish things that a normal person would think impossible (65)

The true hero is flawed.  The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles – preferably his own making – in order to triumph.  A hero without a flaw is of no interest to an audience or to the universe, which after all, is based on conflict and opposition, the irresistible force meeting the unmovable object (135).

I have already started to recommend this book to my family because I loved every page.  There were a few moments where things got weird (something about a possessed zebra toy), but the story is still a beautiful picture of family, love, perseverance and to me it really illustrates what it means to be both a hero and a champion.  I found the story to be extremely moving and especially motivating.

Overall Rating: B

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