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 226 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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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This book has been my favorite ever since I read it.

    Highly recommended.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2009

    The only book I've ever read that brought tears to my eyes by the last page.

    I like to read but I don't make enough time for it. Shortly after it first came out, several friends of mine told me about Owen Meany, one of them saying it was the best book he had ever read. I had a few days off work and thought I would give it a shot. Wow. It was unbelievable. Once I got into it, about 50 pages or so, I couldn't put it down. There were parts of it that had me laughing out loud. Then there parts that truly stirred something deep down inside of me. By the end, when it was all coming together, as the last few pages began taking me to the close, the tears started rolling down my face. I've never experienced that with any book I've ever read. Closing the cover, I honestly knew I had just experienced something powerful.
    I remember growing up in small-town Indiana, and I knew someone in 2nd grade - Ralph. Ralph wore braces on his legs, like Forrest Gump. But he always wanted to race. Everybody beat him, everybody picked on him. Every now and then I would race Ralph, and I would let him win. I remember lying in bed at night, the hall light shining through the crack in the door, and I would think about Ralph. I could only imagine what was going through Ralph's head as he lay in his bed - how could he possibly look forward to tomorrow, another day of abuse that only 2nd graders can dish out. I remember crying, thinking about Ralph. Owen Meany took me back there to those days.
    I told my roomate at the the time right after I read Owen Meany - he, too, had the same reaction. He would come out of his room laughing hysterically telling me what had just happened, and then head back to continue on the journey. He, too, finished the book in a couple of days. So unusual for both of us back then - but this was unlike any book we had ever read.
    A wonderful book - filled with laughs, soaring in spirit, triumphant in so many ways, overflowing with heart, and not afraid to pack a punch. I can't recommend this book enough. It still sits on my book shelf. I can't wait to read it again in the months and years ahead.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Still a better story than twilight

    But if you have any choice do NOT read this book. You will sleep. I had to read it for my AP Lit class and I was not pleased. As a normally fast reader I was ashamed it took me like two weeks to slosh through it. Not a good read.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Next to To Kill a Mockingbird, A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of

    Next to To Kill a Mockingbird, A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favorite books that I have ever read. I went back and read all of John Irving's books, and found them all enlightening in their own way. A Prayer stands out though because it covers all of one's emotions. It is hopeful and forces you to be introspective. This is true American literature. It is not for the casual reader. Irving's use of the English language is superlative, as is his great usage of the semi-colon. This book should appeal to anyone who is remotely interested in life's trials and tribulations; fate and predestination are also part of A Prayer. Don't listen to the naysayers who regard this book as "too wordy". It is exactly the amount of words needed to form such a wonderful read. It has answers to many questions, and questions that require you to think. To some this thinking is what they do not like, but that is the best part. A Prayer for Owen Meany is a treasure chest, that you have the key to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    Wonderful

    John Irving is a master story teller. Funny, engaging, touching, and characters that stay in your heart. Owen Meany is one of those characters you will never forget.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    This book's synopsis sure sounds a lot like the movie Simon Birc

    This book's synopsis sure sounds a lot like the movie Simon Birch. I liked that movie so now I reckon I should read the book... for comparison's sake.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Great book !!! Highly recommend

    I have come to love John Irvings writing style. .. While, adult themed, it definitly makes you think ! I highly recommend this book. It is great, and i love how it is written ! I will read this again. Now I am off to get another Irving book !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    RN

    I loved this book. Initially i was thinking how many pages does it take to tell the story of Owen Meany?? However, the writing is so good that I couldn't put it down. I feel like I know Owen and Johnny personally.
    I thought I would be sad at the end but it was so awesome how it shows how God uses us and directs our footsteps and all we have to do is stay faithful. Or as Owen says "faith takes practice" .
    I would highly recommend this book!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    One of my favorite books.

    The story is poignant, funny, joyous and entertaing

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    Better than the movie!

    The movie Simon Birch was nothing compared to this fantastic story. A must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2012

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of those books that holds a very

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of those books that holds a very special place in your heart after your done with it. It's funny and smart read that will make you think. All the characters are memorable and as quirky as they can be. Owen Meany is one the best written characters in literature. He has the wisdom of the adult with the boyish charm that keeps him likable. Every detail that Irving writes has a meaning that you do not see coming. It will be a challenge not to cry at the fantastic ending to a fantastic book. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 19, 2012

    The book A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, is a great wa

    The book A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving, is a great way to
    show how one little boy’s faith can make someone a believer by just
    hanging around him. This fictional book is a superb read for teenagers
    and adults who want to read a book about faith in God. A Prayer for Owen
    Meany is entertaining while also being very serious about having faith
    in God. The title is a suitable one, but a better title would be The
    Faith of Owen Meany because he has so much faith in God. The cover was a
    little and boring and didn’t seem to relate to the book entirely. A
    better cover would have been a picture of an armadillo which would
    represent the friendship between Owen and John. Owen Meany is a very
    likable character in that his faith in God keeps him going throughout
    the entire novel. John is also a very likable character because his
    friendship with Owen inspired him to become a believer in God. The theme
    is always believe in God and do whatever he says because anyone could
    change another person’s life so that they believe in Christ. Words are
    key to describing certain events and things in any novel. Irving did a
    wonderful job in using very descriptive words to describe the actions of
    Owen and John and even by describing the toys they played with when they
    were younger. Throughout the novel Irving does a great job to support
    the main idea by showing it through Owen’s faith in God. Set during the
    Vietnam War, A Prayer for Owen Meany is a great book about how one
    little boy who knows what his fate will be, doesn’t try to change a
    thing to try and avoid it from happening. Even though he is a very tiny
    boy he can persuade anyone to do anything as long as it glorifies God.
    He shows this authoritative side throughout the novel including the
    Gravesend Christmas Pageant. The book actually made my faith in God
    stronger because Owen, no matter how small he was, still had an
    unbelievable faith in God. This book compared to others is way better
    than others like it because it is more entertaining and has an
    incredible storyline. My favorite aspect of the book was that even
    though Owen killed John’s mom they stayed best friends and ultimately
    made John a believer in God. I encourage anybody to read this book and
    see the adventures John and Owen go through throughout their lives.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Book Review: A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving could hav

    Book Review: A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving could have been
    called a pure genius in this story just because of how strong his main
    character Owen Meany was, but this was not his only great piece of work.
    Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times only
    winning once in 1980. He accumliated many awards over the years but his
    latest one was in 2001 he was elected into the American Academy of Arts
    and Letters. He wrote A Prayer for Owen Meany as a fiction book. The
    intended audience would be someone who is looking for a good book
    involving religious controversy. The purpose of this book was to teach
    not only the readers about a character having a strong faith in God but
    also to question their faith. I believe the title was inspired because
    Johnny develops his faith through Owen and he starts to realize how hard
    things are for Owen keeping a strong faith. The cover of the book threw
    me off a little. I thought maybe the story would involve some farm and
    something big happening in that red truck. Owen and Johnny are our
    two main characters. We journey through the boys lives as they grow up
    and face different challenges. We start to grow a compassion for Owen
    always wanting to do the right thing and Johnny as well because of his
    many challenges he has to face. The main theme was developing a stronger
    faith in God. Owen is always trying to tell everyone about God’s power
    and trying to help Johnny develop himself as a Christian. I really
    enjoyed John Irving’s writing style but there were some parts that
    seemed to drag on forever. He really enjoyed talking about the Vietnam
    War which really kind of bored me. Much to do with this story is about
    God. For example how strong your faith is, what he can and can not do,
    and if he has a life plan for everyone. Owen Meany was a strong
    supporter of all things for God. Throughout the story he always trying
    to help Johnny develop a stronger faith and put all of his trust in God.
    A quote that really stood out to me was when Owen said “THE ONLY WAY YOU
    CAN GET AMERICANS TO NOTICE ANYTHING IS TO TAX THEM OR DRAFT THEM OR
    KILL THEM.” This particular quote stood out to me because of how Owen
    knew that Americans couldn’t stand to do anything unless they were
    forced by law or by gun. Owen Meany is a small boy who gets picked
    on in Sunday school class. Johnny Wheelwright develops a strong
    friendship with Owen because of his very likeable personality. One
    horrible day Owen finally got to play in their little league baseball
    where a tragic thing happened. The ball that he finally hits soars to
    the stands and kills Johnny’s mother. This starts all new adventures
    with Johnny and Owen learning about their faith in God and how to grow
    up without such a wonderful woman in both their lives. Owen tries to
    keep Johnny away from bad things and only strengthen his faith. I
    recommend this book to read if you have some free time. Don’t force
    anyone to read it because they might not enjoy it as much as if they
    were getting to read it on their own.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    The Best!

    This is one of my all time favorite books! The novel that introduced me to Irving-many novels later, it's still my favorite.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A beautifully crafted coming of age story of two boys with a pur

    A beautifully crafted coming of age story of two boys with a purpose!

    Owen Meany was an unusual boy at least that is how his friends would refer to him. Growing up, he had some disadvantages that others didn't. For one, his voice. Those who heard him would often say his voice could easily get on your nerves. It was child-like, soft and sounded like a cartoon character. In fact it could be said you could tell it was Owen talking just by the sound of his voice. Because it was so low, you either had to be close enough to hear it or ask him to speak louder, and that is exactly what Johnny Wheelwright, his best friend would ask him to do.

    Johnny had Owen's voice down pat, and could imitate him if the need should arise, such as reminding his grandmother who Owen was. Being nearly 100 years old, the only way she could remember was when Johnny imitated Owen's voice. Then she would cover her ears and acknowledge that yes, she did remember who he was.

    Another disadvantage poor Owen had was he was very small in stature. So small and so lightweight that in school whenever the teacher stepped out of the room, his classmates would take turns lifting him high over their heads and pass him around the class. This, Owen did not like. His change would fall out of his pockets, baseball cards meticulously sorted would become mixed up, and even though they would give everything back to him, he was not happy. In fact, anyone who met Owen, had a desire to pick him up, even parents.

    Yet one fateful day would change forever how people perceived Owen and it would change how Johnny viewed God. That would be the day when Owen Meany hit a baseball and killed Johnny's mom.

    In the latest novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, the reader is taken back to 1953 with a unique accident would forever change the lives of Johnny Wheelwright and Owen Meany and take them on a journey through their lives. What happens through this unique blend of storytelling in its finest is that Owen sees God in everything, big and small. Even the accident of Johnny's mother who Owen loved dearly is defined by Owen. In fact by the time you get to the end, you, the reader will realize that God is present in so many ways throughout, and you will get one of those "Ah ha!" moments at the end.

    I received this book compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and LOVED this one! If you loved The Cider House Rules or The World According to Garp, then you will love this one as well since John Irving is also the author of those literary masterpieces. From the first sentence until the last, John masterfully crafts this story to engage the reader and become an advocate for Owen throughout the whole novel. While it hurts to see him picked on in so many ways growing up, you can see that God uses everything that happens in our lives for good and this is Owen's story of how that happens. I highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a great feel good book with purpose and John delivers! I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    One of the best

    Best book I've ever read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2011

    Thoughtful and well put together

    A prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving was an interesting novel. It was definitely not a page turner but the story was engaging enough to keep you reading. The way the author described the main characters Johnny and Owen allowed you to thoroughly understand what was happening and he often described the scenes vividly for even greater impact. Throughout the story Johnny was trying to understand his life and most of all, his extremely unusual best friend Owen. At the same time the author seemed to also be piecing the story together the same way, everything finally meeting up and making since at the end when Johnny finally understood it himself. He did this craftily by piecing together moments of Johnny¿s life that would help explain small parts of himself often jumping from a moment from child hood and then to middle age. Over all I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to any avid reader, being about 600 pages long. Being mainly about life and friendship you do not have to be a Christian to enjoy this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2008

    Boring

    Boring...this book dragged on forever. I found myself skipping pages at first and then I skipped chapters and then I just closed the book and moved on to something else. I went back to it months later, thinking that I had missed something and was not in the right place mentally when I first attempted to read it... I was wrong, it was still BORING!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2015

    Disappointed

    I saw the movie Simon Burch that was based on this novel. Loved the movie but not this book. Owen Meany was named perfectly because he was mean a lot of the times to his friends and family and his weird relationship with his parents was never explained. . I will just stick with the movie and forget the book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2014

    Highly recommend

    John Irving is a brilliant writer. His stories are always different and intriguing. His character development makes you feel as though you know the people in the book and they mean something to you, personally.
    I read this book many years ago but I enjoyed it even more this time.

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