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A Prayer for Owen Meany

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  199,120 ratings  ·  9,124 reviews
John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrd ...more
Kindle Edition, 1st trade ed edition (March 13, 2012), 656 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1989)
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Nina Blackwell You're right Magdalen, it is a very slow read and he repeats a lot. I got impatient at how long it was taking me, but I more or less enjoyed it. I…moreYou're right Magdalen, it is a very slow read and he repeats a lot. I got impatient at how long it was taking me, but I more or less enjoyed it. I love the movie Simon Birch which was "inspired" by this book and that movie only includes about 20% of the book and changes a lot.

Oh, just as a random comment, it always surprises me to see on literary sites such as this, the mis-use of the word "it's" when "its" is correct. If you are unsure of its usage, simply replace "it is" and see if the sentence still works....English grammar 101 people.(less)
Sandy I did not find any serious religious undertones. I count myself as an agnostic and had no problem with the religion part. Be aware, though, the book…moreI did not find any serious religious undertones. I count myself as an agnostic and had no problem with the religion part. Be aware, though, the book moves very slowly so if you are looking for a quick, easy read this is not the book.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steve Sckenda
I am doomed to remember this beloved novel, which begins with one of the best opening sentences:
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was an instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.
I read that sentence while browsing at my local library in the mid-90s and raced to check out this book, which I consumed with
Nick G
I'm short on time for this review, but man, this is the closest thing to "a perfect story" as anything I've ever read.

***I'm back a few days later to edit my review, because I can't stop thinking about this book. It might be my favorite. I might be in love with this story. As the first sentence of the story starts out, "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice...", well, I am, too.


I think I fell in love with book as I read one specific sen
Jul 27, 2007 Marty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A long time ago, I came across a story that my grandmother recommended. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I definitely hadn’t expected to read what would become my favorite book. The story begins as many do, giving background on the area that will provide the setting for our tale, a history as reference, but quickly catches up with the main characters and the supporting cast. And we quickly learn of Johnny and Owen Meany, two friends who forge an eternal bond despite their obvious mismatches - p ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Jason rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jesus Christ
I've been on a huge John Irving kick recently, and man, am I glad I didn't start with this book because I might have aborted the whole thing before I had a chance to read some of his better works.

This one just didn't do it for me. Whereas I left other Irving novels feeling recharged and alive, I left this one pissed off and ready to drink cheap tequila until I blacked out and woke up in a new world where there are no books or stories or any sort of entertainment derived from the written word.

I'm sure you can read a million reviews about this book. It seems to be many people's favorite. Let me just say that I have read 5 or 6 John Irving books, and this is the only one that is much more than a good story. About 10 years ago I was assisting a photography class for adults, and one of the particpants, a minister, saw that I was reading this book. He said that A prayer for Owen Meany had more to say about the nature of God than anything he had ever read. We had a fabulous conversation ab ...more
Nov 30, 2010 Nathan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone really bored
I gave this book three stars because I figure that's the average of five stars and one star. Some of the things about this book were great; others were really terrible.

Irving's strong-point is definitely his ability to draw interesting characters in vivid--sometimes painful--detail. Owen, of course, is the central and most interesting character. He's a little runt of a boy with a bizarre voice, a sarcastic wit, an iron will, and an unwavering faith in God and in the fact that he is an instrument
This is the book that made me want to be a writer. I read it in high school, thanks to my favorite English teacher, Mrs. B, who had written down the title on a Post-It note and said, "You need to read this." I immediately went and found a copy and had it finished it by the end of the week.

There is no way I can write a review that is worthy of this novel, but I shall try. It is the story of two boys in New Hampshire in the 1950s: the narrator is Johnny Wheelwright, whose family is wealthy; and h
Write memorable characters. How many “How to Write” books have said that? Whatever the number, it’s a rule that John Irving must have taken to heart. Readers of this book will not soon forget the little guy in the title. Owen was exceedingly small, and had a high, almost cartoonish voice. But he also had a commanding presence. When he spoke, people listened. In large part, this was because he had a lot to say. He was opinionated, influential, and smart.

The narrator, John, was not as central to t
a whole-hearted kind of irving novel. my irving kick started with the cider house rules and burned quickly through garp (good to start with the classics), a widow for one year (didn't like very much), hotel new hampshire, and then owen meany. irving has a kind of roundness and soulfulness on the one hand that really brings you into the characters. they have full and complex voices and sometimes nearly inscrutable relationships. hardly any other authors i can think of have such a light touch that ...more
" I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice-not because of his voice,or because he was the smallest person I ever knew,or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death,but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

That is the opening lines of the novel,and aptly describes what the book is about. This novel goes from there,and takes you on a wild ride of quirky characters,and circumstances that will make you laugh your ass off. This book
I've been giving too many four star reviews lately, so thought I'd mix it up with a review of a book I have conflicted feelings about. Thus, two stars for Owen Meany. Which, by the way, is my favorite of the John Irving novels I've read. Not a fan.

I enjoyed many elements of Owen Meany as I read it. Liked the narrator's family (mother, grandmother, cousins) and the business with the stuffed armadillo. Liked his description of his school days, and thought that the section in which Owen transfixes
Apr 04, 2007 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
I unfortunately picked up this book for the first time as I was leaving for a vacation at my friend's house... for her birthday and Christmas. And I couldn't put it down. I was an appalling house guest, and a worse celebrator. And I don't really regret it, because it marked a moment in time, a turning point for me. I've said this before. I've been sort of struggling with a very personal theory about what I love best in fiction. I think it has something to do with the fact that wonderful fiction ...more
This book is about faith and its opposite, doubt. It’s about people who look for something outside themselves to give themselves faith, in a higher power, in others, in themselves.

Of the John Irving books I’ve read, it’s probably the most fully realized. At times, critics have called Irving’s writing Dickensian and for once that description holds water. The story and the thematic elements mesh well. The amount of quirkiness apparent in Irving’s earlier novels has been reduced. No matter what Vic
This is quite possibly my favorite book of all time. I think that it is Irving at his best. There are events set out early on in the book that tie back in at the end beautifully. I finished this book on the bus from Mont st. Michelle and cried my eyes out. The characters were just believable enough and yet still stretched the bounds of what you would expect. I hope that someday I find a stuffed armadillo...
A Prayer for Owen Meany was a novel that I had wanted to read for a very long time and was it worth the wait.....................?

For the first 150 pages I was totally engrossed in the story and the characters of John, Owen, John’s Mother Tabitha and Grandmother. But as the story progressed it became bogged down with an over abundance of details, facts and political and religious opinions and at times I found myself totally switching off and longing to get back to the story I started.

I really fe
October 2011

The World According to Garp is one of my favorite books, and my favorite of John Irving's books as well. It was also my first Irving novel. I first read it in 2006, and it was nearly a year before I worked up the courage to read more of Irving's work. Garp was such a good novel, I was worried that anything else wouldn't measure up to it--or it would, and Garp would suddenly pale in comparison to something even better. I'm not sure which possibility scared me more.

It turned out to be
Skylar Burris
This is a well written book, with unique characters, and it was a "good read," but I don't think I can say I actually liked it. A Prayer for Owen Meany, despite the narrator's insistence that the Resurrection is the heart of Christianity, presents a joyless Christianity. Christ said, "I have come to give you life, and to give it more abundantly," yet no Christian in this story seems to have an "abundant" life.

I noticed that all of the characters who are representatives of Christianity, even Owe
Nov 20, 2012 Jil rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the faithful, the political, the tiny
Recommended to Jil by: Micah's mother
Much like Garcia Marquez's Vivir Para Contarlo, this book took FOREVER, and I sometimes felt embarrassed to have been carrying it around for weeks. I felt obligated to apologize to people: "I swear I'm a fast reader! I've just had a lot of work to do, and... this fucking thing is 550 pages!"

Somehow, though, it never felt that long. It never felt tedious, I mean; it felt long in the sense that it seemed I had known Owen and Johnny forever. It felt long in that the passage of time was steady and
Come un disegno di Escher


Prima di iniziare questo romanzo, siete pregati di munirvi del seguente Book-kit:

-Un vasto, quanto variegato campionario di espressioni facciali, da sfoggiare di pari passo con le molteplici emozioni di queste quasi 600 pagine. C'è di tutto, ma proprio tutto; dalla faccia angosciata a quella incredula, da quella divertita a quella intimamente commossa, da quella riflessiva a quella estasiata, e così via.

- Google o Wikipedia a portata di mano.
Il contesto politi
Dec 27, 2007 Kirstie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love literature
I have a secret to tell...I wasn't always a huge book reader. I grew up in a family of avid readers and it was always joked that my mom was born with a book in her hand. But, for me, when I was in high school, I chose to stick to shorter novels like Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar and anything over 500 pages seemed just way too daunting. I remember thinking that for a long time picking up A Prayer For Owen Meany, which is easily Irving's best in the four of his I've read (Hotel New Hampshire ...more
This book is special. It's full of unique and interesting characters, but what made it really stand out for me was the way it made me laugh. Never before, and not since, have I laughed as often or as loudly while reading a book.
I'd give it more than 5 stars if I could. It's going in my 'favorites' pile. I don't know when I've read a book with so much humor, tragedy, love, truth, love, and plain old deep understanding of human nature.

I listened to this book and it's one of the few I've listened to that I didn't 'zone out', fall asleep, get bored, or whatever. There are parts, thankfully, that are less intense, but they didn't bore me. At times I was weeping and laughing out loud at the same time. Drove my dogs nuts.

I re
Diane D.
Jan 19, 2013 Diane D. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diane D. by: Julie Thorsen
I didn't know what took me so long (had it for 15 years!) to read this Irving classic until I read that Owen Meany says "there are no coincidences". I read this at a very emotional time in my life - which happened to be the right time for me to read it.

At times in the beginning, I had to push myself to keep going. There are only 9 chapters in a book that is over 500 pages, and in true Irving style, the writing can be dense at times (IMO) hence my 4 star rating. Be that as it may, the story is o
Carac Allison
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" was the first present my wife ever gave me. This was 20 years before she became my wife. We were good friends and roommates back then and neither of us had any idea that we would get married so many years later.
I valued her sense of books but I never understood why she liked John Irving so damn much. I'd read "The World According to Garp" and been impressed with it. Sure. But I found Irving's style too much like Dickens--the writer my mother had pushed on me for too man
Jun 23, 2009 C. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C. by: 1001
Shelves: to-be-re-read
I liked this book. I didn't find it powerful, or moving - it wasn't one of those books that seemed to have singled me out at a crowded party, taken me to a quiet bedroom and stolen my literary virginity - but I enjoyed it. It never dragged, was never boring, always entertaining, often good for a laugh... but I don't think I quite got it.

I was waiting for something more spectacular to happen at the end. That there was all this build up just for him to do something that I won't spoil here but that
I initially read this novel in high school and fell in love with the story of two best friends. I am always curious to find out how I feel about a book re-reading it more than 10 years later. I still felt connected to little Owen Meany and the adventures he shared with Johnny Wheelwright.

Two best friends growing up, Johnny shares their stories growing up and chronicles the life of Owen Meany. Johnny tells the reader how impactful Owen was, while alternating between the past (60's) and present (8
Marco Tamborrino
Questo è - è stato - il mio primo incontro con Irving. Occorre partire da zero per analizzarlo come si deve.

'Un giorno dell'estate 1953, con una palla lanciata durante una partita di baseball, Owen Meany uccide per sbaglio l'adorata madre del suo più caro compagno di giochi, John Wheelwright.'
Sembra questa (le prime tre righe di trama) la premessa per una storia diversa da quello che poi si rivelerà essere. Ci immaginiamo una difficoltà di compresione tra i due amici in seguito alla morte della
Wow. What a strange book. At times fascinating, at times tedious, at times hilarious. It had me IN STITCHES, for the first 150 pages or so; I kept laughing out loud! Oh my gosh.

I wasn't too thrilled with the Christmas pageant segment, so at that point in the book, my laugh-out-loud rate slowed down from about 1 laugh for every 5 pages to about 1 laugh for every 50 (but don't worry, I'm sure there was at least one inner chuckle on every page).

(My book was the paperback, beige cover with an imag
I'm reading this again after several years and I have to say it's still a great story. Last time I was in my late teens, and now I can appreciate the craft of his storytelling on a different level. First off, how he manipulates time, and does it so seamlessly is just amazing. One can learn a great deal about easing in and out of time periods from Irving because you barely notice the time shifts, even though they can be as large as a decade between paragraphs. For the first 100 or so pages, he mo ...more
4.5 Stars. Although somewhat tedious at times, definitely an amazing and unforgettable story. Owen, with his unusual voice and diminutive size is a gifted, emotional, and peculiar character with a commanding presence. Highly recommend for those with the time (600+ pages and a bit of patience)
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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving’s fourth novel and his first international bestseller; it also became a George Roy Hill film. Tony Richardson wrote and directed the adaptation for the screen of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). Irving’s novels are now translated into thirty ...more
More about John Irving...
The World According to Garp The Cider House Rules The Hotel New Hampshire A Widow for One Year The Fourth Hand

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“If you care about something you have to protect it – If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” 1715 likes
“When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” 1511 likes
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