Ellie's Reviews > A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2017groupchallenge, 2017indchallenge, american, fiction
Read 2 times. Last read July 7, 2017 to July 22, 2017.

It's taken me several years to get into this one: now I'm not sure why. It's long and the book starts slowly, although it's always very well-written. But the story (and the writing) pick up momentum as it goes along and by the last third I could hardly put it down. And the ending, although the reader is prepared for it, is riveting.

Owen Meany and Johnny Wheelright are childhood friends. This friendship not only survives but becomes even closer following a tragedy, which happens right at the beginning of the novel: Owen hits a baseball that strikes Johnny's mother and kills her. Owen is notable both for his small stature and his high-pitched voice (which is represented in all-caps typeface which took me some time to adjust to). He comes from a poor family, John comes from one of the town;s most prominent ones (the town is a New Hampshire town like many of Irving's settings). The story begins in the early 1950s, follows the two through the 1960s, and is interspersed with remarks from John written in 1987.

Although small and odd, Owen is a remarkable person who is deeply respected by the town. Much of the story meditates on faith, doubt, and religion. The book is almost a meditation on what faith is (and what it's not). It also looks at what miracles are-do they exist? what do they mean if they do?
who decides if they are real or not?

The book is sad, even tragic, but there is also humor throughout. Certainly a lot of it is dry wit (especially when examining John's social relations, his difficulties with girls, and his life as a teacher). Owen himself can be very funny.

At one point, Irving quotes Hardy as saying that a storyteller is like the Ancient Mariner and must have a story worth stopping people to listen to.

This is that story.
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Reading Progress

July 4, 2013 – Shelved
July 4, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
December 28, 2016 – Shelved as: tbr-next
July 7, 2017 – Started Reading
July 7, 2017 –
page 18
2.74% "This is about as far as I made it the first time I tried to read this book. But I'm finding it more interesting this time. I'd really like to finish it!"
July 16, 2017 –
page 158
24.09% "Another book I've tried (several times) to read without success that this time I'm really into. I'm actually finding it very suspenseful: what happens to Owen?

Beautiful prose and interesting characters."
July 22, 2017 – Started Reading (Paperback Edition)
July 22, 2017 –
page 504
76.83% "Really picks up the pace in this section. I'm feeling a growing sense of dread but I can't put the book down."
July 22, 2017 – Shelved (Paperback Edition)
July 22, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017groupchallenge
July 22, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017indchallenge
July 22, 2017 – Shelved as: american
July 22, 2017 – Shelved as: fiction
July 22, 2017 – Finished Reading
July 23, 2017 – Finished Reading (Paperback Edition)

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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Petra I read this so many years ago and it remains one of my favorite books.


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim My favorite Irving book. Good review!


message 3: by Adina (new) - added it

Adina Excellent review. I have the same problem as you. I have it resting on my Shortlist shelf but i never gather the guts to read it.


Candi Ellie, I'm glad to have stumbled across your review today when I noticed another friend 'liking' it on my news feed. Your lovely review reminds me why this amazing book sits on my favorite list!


Ellie Thanks everyone!


Angela M Fantastic review, Ellie.


message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane Wallace nice review!


message 8: by Deanna (new)

Deanna I've had this on my tbr and should really get to it :)
Very nice review :)


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