The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein

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Chapters 16-18 Summary

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Denny has a successful stretch of races, and Eve has a period of good health. The family’s tensions are at least temporarily toned down. In the place of yelling and arguing, Enzo hears laughter and loves it. He also loves that big names from the sports racing world are showing up for dinner. Enzo enjoys listening to the racers’ conversations. He is also proud of Zoe, who has developed her communication skills and can repeat some of her dad’s most frequently spoken philosophies about car racing. Because Enzo cannot talk, he lives vicariously through Zoe; she often says what he thinks he would say if he had the chance.

Denny’s lucky streak comes to an end, however, when another car side-swipes his in one of the bigger races of the season. If he had placed high in that competition, he had a chance to win rookie of the year. Although Denny finishes that race, his car is so damaged that he comes in dead last.

Besides car racing, there is something else on Denny’s and Eve’s minds. One summer night when the family is sitting outside on the back porch, Enzo overhears Denny and Eve talking. Eve feels disappointed that Denny has to be gone so often. She says something about Denny’s being gone when she is ovulating. Denny pats her knee and says, maybe next time. Then they tease about keeping baby-makers in the refrigerator. Enzo senses their disappointment, but their peace of mind seems to return when their attention turns to Zoe, who is soaking wet as she runs through the spray of the backyard sprinkler. Enzo is sure that for this moment they are all experiencing pure joy.

The joy is broken, though, when an accident occurs during a family hike. Enzo is in heaven at first. He enjoys the scents of the old forest—the fallen evergreen needles, the rotting but fertile soil. He takes his time, identifying each individual smell on the forest floor. Then he bursts into a run through the bushes, chasing chipmunks or whatever else is brave enough to rear its head.

The family is heading for what is called Slippery Slabs, giant slanted slabs of rock moistened by a spreading stream. When they reach the spot, Eve stands at the top of the slope and Denny stands at the bottom. Eve holds Zoe in position and then lets the young girl slide down the face of the smooth, moist rock face. Denny catches his daughter at the bottom and carries her back to her mother. They repeat this for hours.

But one time when Eve is about to release Zoe to slide down the slope to her father, Eve loses her balance. She puts her hands out to brace herself but the rocks are too slippery for her to get a grip. She tumbles over and down the rocks, hitting her head hard two or three times. When Denny reaches Eve, her mouth is bleeding. She says she bit her lip.

The family leaves immediately. Denny drives straight to the nearest hospital. They leave Enzo in the car and go inside.

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