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Archive: Other Books > A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving ★★★

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message 1: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7016 comments This novel of sorrow and humour, isn't just the story of Owen Meany, but also of his best friend, John Wheelwright who narrates it. The book starts when they are eleven and in the first chapter Owen accidentally kills John's mother, although they are able to remain friends. It then covers many parts of the next 35 or so years in John's life.

Owen is unique. He is tiny, has a highly unusual voice and is extremely bright. He also, for much of the book, evidently knows the date of his death and what he's doing (this is not a spoiler). He has a driving faith that there is a Christian God, but he's neither pious nor zealous for the religious life. Much of this novel covers the events surrounding this vision of Owen's, but also how he and John both navigate the trials of youth and education, the pitfalls and joys of love, and how Owen helps John find out who he is and what he's good at. It is also, regretfully, rather political in the later parts, and I was not interested in hearing about Ronald Reagan and other issues of the time when this novel was being written.

The writing is strong, and Irving does an excellent job of filling out his characters. I liked this somewhat better than the only other book of his I've read, The World According to Garp, but I certainly didn't love it.


message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments Something to think about. I wonder if it should stay in my TBR list.


message 3: by Sara (new)

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments Oh this review makes me sad. I thought it was amazing and redeemed my faith in Irving after not being impressed with Cider House Rules.


message 4: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8342 comments Susie wrote: "Something to think about. I wonder if it should stay in my TBR list."

Susie, I think you'll find that most people here love (or at least really like) Owen Meany!

Me, I liked it (listened to the audio), thought it was good (3.5 stars), but many here loved it. I actually liked Garp a bit better. I think the only other I've read by Irving is Son of a Circus and I was not a fan of that one!


message 5: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I read Garp a looonnngggg time ago but honestly can't remember what I thought if it! I only remember *that* scene! A friend adores Irving and insists that I read more of him. I shall and I'll keep you posted.


message 6: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments I loved this book, I read it last year, for PBT 100 and was so glad I chose it for the challenge, it is probably my second favorite Irving after The World According to Garp


message 7: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6437 comments Susie wrote: "I read Garp a looonnngggg time ago but honestly can't remember what I thought if it! I only remember *that* scene! A friend adores Irving and insists that I read more of him. I shall and I'll keep ..."

Love Irving, Susie! Although so far my favorite is one of his lesser known works A Widow for One Year.


message 8: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I have been wondering which title to start with. You gave me my answer!


message 9: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5813 comments Like Cindy, I also listened to the audio, and I loved it. 5***** from me.

Here's a part of my review:
This is a modern fable; a story of faith, moral courage, destiny and friendship. Covering the period from 1953 to the late 1980s, Irving uses the narrator – Johnny Wheelwright – to comment on the politics of the day, social mores, the role of faith and religion in our communities, and the miracle of enduring friendship.


message 10: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7016 comments Sara wrote: "Oh this review makes me sad. I thought it was amazing and redeemed my faith in Irving after not being impressed with Cider House Rules."

Don't let it make you sad! At least I liked it, and I'm not generous with 4 and 5 stars. One of the things I enjoy about this group is that we don't all have to like the same books.

Even in my own house we don't all agree. My middle child enjoys novels I loathed at her age (Lord of the Flies, for example). We don't let it bother us.


message 11: by Sara (last edited Mar 04, 2016 07:37AM) (new)

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments I am always a little sad when people don't love books I love. I appreciate that not everyone will have the same taste, there are just certain books I want everyone to love like I do. You and I often differ on books tnough, so I am not terribly surprised.


message 12: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7016 comments Sara wrote: "I am always a little sad when people don't love books I love. I appreciate that not everyone will have the same taste, there are just certain books I want everyone to love like I do. You and I ofte..."

True; sometimes I'm sad someone doesn't like a certain book, but not very often. And since my tastes have changed to some degree (some books I always love or hate regardless of age), there are books I loved in my youth I abhor now, and I'm not talking y/a per se, since while I read it (we had it, just not under that name) it was just a small part of my reading in my teen years. eg I loved the first two books of Gormenghast when I was 19, but I won't reread it, because I know enough to know I won't like it now and don't want to spoil the memory of having enjoyed it.


message 13: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6437 comments I only feel bad when I've recommended a book and then the reader dislikes it. I feel like I've wasted their time (and possibly their money). (really, really worried about Nicole R and The Secret History for example)

And I'm always delighted when someone loves a book I love.

But if the person chooses to read a book I love of their own volition and don't like it, then I just chalk that up to personal taste . . . don't always "get it", but realize that when it comes to books, taste varies so widely.

Interesting topic!


message 14: by JoLene (last edited Mar 04, 2016 06:17PM) (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments I agree that there is a delimma of re-reading. I think that sometimes books appeal to you at a certain point in your life. i loved this book when I read it 25 years ago, but I'm not sure that my middle-aged self would feel the same way.


message 15: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7016 comments Anita wrote: "I only feel bad when I've recommended a book and then the reader dislikes it. I feel like I've wasted their time (and possibly their money). (really, really worried about Nicole R and [book:The Sec..."

It is interesting. I think my 17 year old has tastes closer to yours sometimes. She would probably love this writing. I may get it from the library, not to reread it, but to check some of those passages where he describes things.


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