Customer Reviews for

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

43 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

A Prayer for Owen Meany

I did not find Owen Meany to be an immediately lovable character, but his is a character that grew on me. By the end of the book, when one truly understands what Owen was about, it becomes clear just how strong both the book and the character turn out to be. By then, al...
I did not find Owen Meany to be an immediately lovable character, but his is a character that grew on me. By the end of the book, when one truly understands what Owen was about, it becomes clear just how strong both the book and the character turn out to be. By then, all the details make sense, the meaning behind each chapter becomes clear, and you are left with the feeling that you have finished a truly remarkable book. This book truly is absolute perfection in a novel. There's not much of that in the modern writing world. The first few chapters are slow going, but not to delay the miraculous end ... only to set the oh so important stage and plot. And oh, what a stage, what a cast of characters, what dialogue and New England settings.
Treat yourself to a true modern day masterpiece. By the end, you'll be sobbing, turning back pages saying, "Why? Why? This can't be," while knowing it HAD to be. I wish I could shake the hand that has written such an amazing tale. A Prayer for Owen Meany is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read. The six hundred page novel is filled to the brim with unexpected sarcasm and incredible hilarity. The novel, told from the point of view of John Wheelrwight, tells the story of an unnaturally small and high-pitched boy named Owen Meany. Throughout the story, John Irving made this character, a character so complex and so riveting, to be one of the most incredible protagonists American literature has ever seen.

posted by BANCHEE_READS on September 13, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

86 out of 221 people found this review helpful.

Not amused by this novel

This book is obscene, and unsuitable for children of any age. It uses the 'F' word through out the book, and features numerous sex scenes involving teenagers, relatives (incest), and in one case, contemplates sex between a teenager and a married adult. Furthermore, t...
This book is obscene, and unsuitable for children of any age. It uses the 'F' word through out the book, and features numerous sex scenes involving teenagers, relatives (incest), and in one case, contemplates sex between a teenager and a married adult. Furthermore, this book mocks and belittles Christianity, throughout ... calling Christians 'idiots,' 'simpletons' and 'self righteous fanatics.' At one point, it refers to Jesus disciples, using profanity ... And takes the specific words of Jesus, ... from his Sermon on the Mount ... and says they're untrue. It also mocks the Virgin birth of Christ, implying Jesus mother was retarded ... (which seems to be a recurring theme of Irving's books (World According to Garp also contains a virgin birth mockery.) The book also contains several Manger 'scenes' where the 'baby Jesus' is depicted by an adolescent Owen Meany, --lustful and with an 'erection.' This book is technically 'fiction' ...but in reality, it uses a fictitious theme, to attack real life characters ...primarily Christians, and the Republican Party ... (It refers to Ronald Reagan as a 'young drunk,' for example.) This book was assigned to my 15 year old daughter, in her 'honors' english class, at a public high school. It is on the approved reading list in another school district near by. It is not anything any parent would want their child reading in school (or anywhere else for that matter). (...) (A parent will be shocked by the frequent obscenity.) In a country where teenage pregnancy is on the rise, and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases rampant ... we don't need to be purposely focussing our children on such carnal desires ... Finally, this book has been characterized as 'humorous' by readers and critics ... However, you will only find it humorous ... if you don't mind the most sacred Christian figures being mocked and belittled ... I for one, am not laughing ...

posted by Anonymous on October 26, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2005

    Not amused by this novel

    This book is obscene, and unsuitable for children of any age. It uses the 'F' word through out the book, and features numerous sex scenes involving teenagers, relatives (incest), and in one case, contemplates sex between a teenager and a married adult. Furthermore, this book mocks and belittles Christianity, throughout ... calling Christians 'idiots,' 'simpletons' and 'self righteous fanatics.' At one point, it refers to Jesus disciples, using profanity ... And takes the specific words of Jesus, ... from his Sermon on the Mount ... and says they're untrue. It also mocks the Virgin birth of Christ, implying Jesus mother was retarded ... (which seems to be a recurring theme of Irving's books (World According to Garp also contains a virgin birth mockery.) The book also contains several Manger 'scenes' where the 'baby Jesus' is depicted by an adolescent Owen Meany, --lustful and with an 'erection.' This book is technically 'fiction' ...but in reality, it uses a fictitious theme, to attack real life characters ...primarily Christians, and the Republican Party ... (It refers to Ronald Reagan as a 'young drunk,' for example.) This book was assigned to my 15 year old daughter, in her 'honors' english class, at a public high school. It is on the approved reading list in another school district near by. It is not anything any parent would want their child reading in school (or anywhere else for that matter). (...) (A parent will be shocked by the frequent obscenity.) In a country where teenage pregnancy is on the rise, and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases rampant ... we don't need to be purposely focussing our children on such carnal desires ... Finally, this book has been characterized as 'humorous' by readers and critics ... However, you will only find it humorous ... if you don't mind the most sacred Christian figures being mocked and belittled ... I for one, am not laughing ...

    86 out of 221 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Prayer for Owen Meany

    I did not find Owen Meany to be an immediately lovable character, but his is a character that grew on me. By the end of the book, when one truly understands what Owen was about, it becomes clear just how strong both the book and the character turn out to be. By then, all the details make sense, the meaning behind each chapter becomes clear, and you are left with the feeling that you have finished a truly remarkable book. This book truly is absolute perfection in a novel. There's not much of that in the modern writing world. The first few chapters are slow going, but not to delay the miraculous end ... only to set the oh so important stage and plot. And oh, what a stage, what a cast of characters, what dialogue and New England settings.
    Treat yourself to a true modern day masterpiece. By the end, you'll be sobbing, turning back pages saying, "Why? Why? This can't be," while knowing it HAD to be. I wish I could shake the hand that has written such an amazing tale. A Prayer for Owen Meany is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read. The six hundred page novel is filled to the brim with unexpected sarcasm and incredible hilarity. The novel, told from the point of view of John Wheelrwight, tells the story of an unnaturally small and high-pitched boy named Owen Meany. Throughout the story, John Irving made this character, a character so complex and so riveting, to be one of the most incredible protagonists American literature has ever seen.

    43 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2003

    Don't miss this one!

    I finished this book just today and I want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again! A Prayer for Owen Meany joins my list of all time favorites. It is a book to be savored and one I never wanted to end. This is a book about faith, friendship, destiny and the meaning of life. Are the seemingly random incidents in life truly random, or does everything happen for a reason? Owen Meany knows the answer to that question. Once again John Irving has created a world full of characters you will love and never forget, a story that will make you laugh and make you cry. But most of all A Prayer for Owen Meany will touch your heart and make you believe.

    21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2010

    Simply horrible...

    I had the displeasure of reading this for a literature class in my university. I am a lover of all kinds of literature, but this book was just horrible. The characters are pathetic, it amazes me how all the characters just blindly follow Owen Meany. Owen Meany tells you to cut your hand off, you do it, Owen Meany tells you to become a literature professor for a living, oh yeah, you better do it.

    The narrator, who is also a character in the story, is the least likable character I have ever read about, he is pathetic and cynical. The entire book is cynical really, cynical about the government, cynical about religious congregations...it's funny how religion is a major theme in the book but is bashed around so much.

    Owen Meany goes around acting like he's Jesus Christ, and everyone seems to buy into that. Unless you're looking forward to reading page after page about an unaccomplished middle-aged man complaining about god and the world...then I don't reccomend it.

    16 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    A Prayer For Owen Meany belongs in everyone's library.

    This book can definitely be described as a true novel. I have shared it with so many relatives and friends that I had to buy a second copy (paperback) because my first one was falling apart.

    I found the story brought out a fact I learned many years ago in grade school. Our seventh grade teacher pointed out that each of us was put on this earth for a very special reason and Owen Meany brought that fact back into my life.

    I am very grateful that John Irving wrote and shared this novel with us.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    Endearing Characters and a Satisfying Ending

    When I was a young girl, I had a night light by my bed. Long after my fear of the dark had passed, I would pretend to still be afraid so that I could use the light to read books when I was supposed to be sleeping. Now I am at a different life stage in a different setting, but this book was worth buying a new reading lamp for. It was also worth staying up late with a aching neck and sore eyes just to finish another chapter. The characters in this book, and the relationship between them and God, evoked deep respect and reflection from this reader. The ending of the novel was satisfying because one can trace the closing events to earlier ones and realize that just as God had a plan within the plot, Irving had a plan as well.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Torture

    I hated this book! It was pure torture to pick it up and read. But for some reason I stuck it out to the bitter end where I sobbed like a big baby and was glad to have finished for the sake of the story and not just because I was done with it. However, I will never read another John Irving book again - Ever. I really dislike Irving's writing style.

    11 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Prayer for Owen Meany

    This is one of my all time favorite books! I fell in love with the characters like I do with all of John Irvings' characters. He writes so well of broken people. Which in my opinion we all are to one degree or another. I am not a religious person but still loved this story. I have loaned it to friends and family and all but one person fell in love with this book as well. This book is funny as hell and sad all at the same time. You find yourself laughing at and crying with these characters while they forge thier way through thier lives.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    wonderful

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is a poignant story about a very special boy named...Owen Meany. Our narrator in this book is John, Owen's best friend. The events in this book really get rolling when Owen accidentally kills John's mother. The wheels are set in motion for Owen, who believes that everything happens for a reason. Owen also believes he is "God's instrument". Owen believes there is a special purpose for his tiny size and unusual voice. This, John's telling of his time with Owen, is a riveting read. The narration goes back and forth from their childhoods and adolescence together, as young adults during the Vietnam era, and John living in Canada in the '80's. Irving has such a unique writing style of going back and forth giving little hints here and there of what's to come with the characters. Long before we get to the very last page, we realize that everything that we've read was relevant and it all comes together in the end. Owen is such a unique and unforgettable character. I'm already looking forward to re-reading A Prayer for Owen Meany.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2004

    a beautiful story

    all I can say is wow. The best.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    Incredible

    This book is probably one of my favorites. Owen Meany is probably one of my favorite characters in literature - the plot moves slowly at times, but the novel has a great overall meaning and depth. This is a slow read, so make sure you have time! But it's definitely worth it - a book you won't forget.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    An amazing read

    After reading this book years ago it has become and remained my favorite novel. The story is so engaging and every word becomes important to the revealing ending in such a way that you can hardly believe how intracite a weave Irving has created. I truly feel that this book is a miracle of faith, and one that anyone can find solace in no matter how strong or weak their personal faith might be.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Don't give up on this one!

    I read this book 11 years ago, and it still sticks in my mind. I HATED the book at first, but I am one of those people who has to finish what she reads. I am so glad I did. By the end of the book, I was thinking OMG all capital letters lol. Everything came together and made this a fantastic read if you just stick it out.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    Worth the read

    I enjoyed the book. The middle of it seemed a little sluggish but it all comes together in such a way, near the end, that it all makes sense. Irving devotes alot of time developing the characters so you really have a sense of who they are. My first reading of anything by John Irving but certainly will read others.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2003

    The Best Book I've Ever Read!

    I read this book for english my final year of high school. Irving does a brilliant job of bringing Owen to life. A very moving story that leaves you not wanting to put the book down..

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    An all time fave

    I adore this book. The characters are wonderful and the denouement is breathtaking. It will stay with you; I read it years ago and have never forgotten. Don't miss it. Other faves include The God of Small Things; Cutting For Stone; Hunting and Gathering; She's Come Undone; just to give you an idea of the literary company I keep. If you like Twilight or that Shades of Gray smut you probably won't like this.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

    Starts interesting, and ends even more interesting

    Owen Meany is a very intriguing character. As you begin to read the novel, Owen is discovered to have many peculiar traits including his short stature and loud, nasal voice. As the plot develops, and the characters around Owen mature, its very interesting to watch as Owen stays the same. By the end of the book, you will be so enraptured by the masterful creation of Owen Meany that you will be upset to lose him. There are so many twists and exciting adventures in this novel that make John Irving's novel an excellent read.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2009

    a prayer for owen meany

    compelling, heartfelt, funny and amazing. a permanent place in my heart and library.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2012

    ¿A Prayer for Owen Meany¿ is an unrealistic but ultimately inter

    “A Prayer for Owen Meany” is an unrealistic but ultimately interesting novel by writer John Irving. Disappointingly, the majority of Irving’s writing is painfully detailed, and he often adds superfluous character descriptions. The overall story is well thought out, and the events fit together well, but the execution is subpar.
    The narrator of the story is a young boy, and eventually man, named Johnny Wheelwright. However, the story’s real focal point is Johnny’s best friend Owen Meany. Owen is a dwarf child with a unique voice that is written in ALL CAPS in the book. Owen is an interesting character, but not especially lovable. He can be selfish and nagging at times, but the real trouble of the book is that you are forced to sympathize with and aggrandize Owen, whether you want to or not. The events that occur to him and that are supposedly “fated” create Owen’s true uniqueness, but Owen’s character gets to unrightfully take credit for that. These same events also create sympathy for Owen’s character although they were completely out of his control and mask how frustrating his character really is.
    As a story, the novel is completely unrealistic. Irving uses God and religion as a major force in the book and uses God to explain many completely unbelievable occurrences. The book is heavily religious (and political too), and I do not recommend it for people who do not enjoy books based solely in fate and religion.
    The story can also be inappropriate at times, especially for younger readers. Irving explicitly details the sexual and pubescent encounters of the young boys, to the point of making the story uncomfortable to read.
    Overall, the story fits together well, but as a whole is simply unrealistic. The writing is very “thick” and overly detailed and can be very opinionated or inappropriate. Some of the scenes are interesting, but the book is very “hit or miss” based on the reader.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    A classic to pass on to my children

    Fantastic read. It made me laugh and cry. I bought it for my 27 yr. old son and he read the first chapter and called to tell me how much he was enjoying it.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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