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A Prayer for Owen Meany

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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 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 September 6, 2013

    Disappointing

    The basic story was engaging, but the overblown passages preaching about religion really bored me. I'd edit out 200 pages of the book if I were the editor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Good story but too long

    Too long. Tedious in sections. Nice character description and development but it could have been shorter. I found it wearisome after awhile but the writing was excellent. Would have really enjoyed it if not do dragged out.

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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.

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  • Posted May 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is an interesting read to say the least.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is an interesting read to say the least. The book is written from the perspective of John Wheelwright, a character in the book who experiences a rather odd childhood. He’s best friends with Owen Meany who comes off a bit annoying during the first few chapters of the book. The book tells a tale of two boys growing up in New Hampshire both of which are quite uncertain of their religious beliefs. While to some it appears quite evident that John Wheelwright is just going along in life and is willing to follow the direction of his very bitter, strangely clever best friend Owen Meany who is beyond outspoken. Owen Meany is very certain that he believes in GOD yet, doesn’t follow the practices of any sort of denomination. As the book unfolds, Owen Meany’s character is truly seen in the way he handles some unfortunate events in life. While his interpretation of his beliefs are not altogether understood or perfect for that matter. Some of which are a bit comical. By the end of the book you’ll either hate the book or love it. If you are looking for a good read this sure to be one of the most interesting; but only if you can handle reading the view of two boys who interprets religion, life and relationships from their own perspectives. It does contain some adult content such as language, but I wouldn’t consider it to be explicit. There are jokes and remarks made about Christianity, that may take you by surprise but again this is a fiction novel. The novel is dated back when Presidents Regan and JFK were in office so there are comments made in regards to wars fought during that time and how they ran their political offices. If you can handle this then it’ll be an interesting read, if not I don’t suggest on you reading this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    In the end the story was ok...

    It was a very slow moving book. In retrospect I liked the story.

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  • Posted August 17, 2012

    Amber Crigler John Irving, a well known author, kept up h

    Amber Crigler John Irving, a well known author, kept up his award
    winning writing with A Prayer for Owen Meany. In his book he appeals to
    readers interested in religious controversy. They enjoy the fictional
    story of young friendships with large impacts. Once the friendship is
    strong, an ending purpose to the book leaves the leaders questioning a
    religious thought. The title sets the idea of the strong, religious
    impact of the book. The characters are very relatable in that they
    have mature, yet young personalities. They connect to readers that
    either have strong faith, or growing faith. The story explains the
    transformation to christianity and the struggles, of the overall
    incredible outcome of being a follower of Christ. Also, it is easily
    comprehended and smooth reading. The end leaves the reader to decide,
    but the argument is supported well in the story of Owen Meany. This book
    demonstrates how a childhood friendship grows and changes their lives. A
    Christian boy causes an accident and uses it to spread his faith in God.
    This book was moving and inspiring. It causes the reader to think in a
    young, and religious mind. Throughout the story you are a inspired by
    the way a young boy can stand so firm in his faith for God. The effect
    his has on people forces the reader to compare their impacts on people.
    I think any age reader would enjoy reading this and learn from Owen Meany.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    This book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, was written by John Irving,

    This book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, was written by John Irving, a
    recipient of the National Book Award back in 1980. It is a friendship
    fiction, going through a journey with two people from kids to adults,
    with all the ups and downs of the relationship. This book to me seems
    like it is more for college level readers and up, containing some
    contents that may seem cloudy for any readers at a younger age. It seems
    to be written for entertainment purposes, with some lessons on faith and
    finding God. The title of the book is alright, it could have been better
    to catch the reader’s attention looking for an entertainment type book,
    but it did go along the lines of the idea of the book. The cover of the
    book was great. It gave me a great picture in my head every time I
    picked up the book to begin reading again. The text was a little small
    and had too many words on each page, and the chapters were to long. But
    the paper was easy to read off of and great for flipping through the
    pages easily. The two main characters are Johnny and Owen. The author
    makes you feel as if you have known them all along. Johnny is easy to
    relate to, having a friend to look after and going through their
    struggles in his point of view. The theme is for the most part about
    finding ones faith through experiences, friends, and family. Key ideas
    and moments were portrayed all throughout the novel. Owen killing his
    best friend’s mom and understanding why it happened at such a young age
    is a major highlight to me from the story. Owen towards the end of the
    novel says to a group of children, “DON’T BE AFRAID!” not knowing at the
    time that the quote he told them was basically what he had been telling
    himself all throughout the story. If you have a lot of time on your
    hands, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s a great story, tying
    in history, religion, and friendship all together. There are some
    adjustments I would personally like to make to the book if I could, such
    as limiting some of the words, not going as in detail about parts of
    history, and shortening the chapters. For the most part, I would
    definitely recommend the book for a peaceful, frightening, and religious
    journey through the eyes of two boys as you go through their experiences
    of growing old and maturing.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    John Irving wrote A Prayer for Owen Meany and it is New York Tim

    John Irving wrote A Prayer for Owen Meany and it is New York Times
    Bestseller. A Prayer for Owen Meany is a fiction book about friendship.
    This book is for high school students and adult just because of the
    language. The purpose of this book is mainly for entertainment. The
    title is ok but it could’ve been better. The book cover is pretty good
    and the old car on the front provides an insight to the time period.
    The size of the book was a little small but the print was clear and
    readable. The two main characters in the book are Owen Meany who is the
    center of attention throughout the book and his best friend John
    Wheelwright who is a changed Christian because of Owen. The main theme
    of A Prayer for Owen Meany is religious faith and friendship. Irving’s
    writing style is good and unique because Owen’s words are in all caps
    and this helps the reader see Owen’s personality. The key ideas in this
    book are Owen’s views on faith, what happens with his family and the
    Catholic Church, and how Owen changes John’s faith. I would recommend
    this book because it keeps you interested with the unanswered questions
    and ultimately with what Owen does. The book starts out with Owen
    killing John’s mother during a little league baseball game and what
    happens after that changes both of the boy’s lives forever. Owen
    believes everything happens for a reason and he blames himself for
    John’s mother’s death. John’s faith is tarnished after the incident and
    Owen regains it through many extraordinary acts that leaves John
    speechless. In all the book was a little long and boring at sometimes
    but it was very entertaining and kept you wanting to read more.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    John Irving, a New York Times Bestselling author, definitely kep

    John Irving, a New York Times Bestselling author, definitely kept up his
    reputation with A Prayer for Owen Meany. This non-fiction book is great
    for young adults interested in faith and friendship. Irving writes
    through a young boy named Johnny who is a Christian because of his
    friend Owen (who happens to be responsible for his mother’s death.) The
    title fits well with the book but the cover however, is irrelevant to
    the story. The picture is interesting and draws you in but it does not
    go with any events from the book. Johnny and Owen are a great pair and
    have a lifelong friendship that many people can relate to. Owen is a
    very small boy with a voice no one will forget. Owen uses his words to
    inspire people who knew him, especially Johnny. A main theme of the book
    is faith. Throughout the story Owen emphasizes the importance of faith
    to Johnny. Owen is very religious and sees himself as an instrument of
    God which is very inspiring. The writing style is not unusual except
    that Owens voice is always portrayed in all capital letters. Owens
    explanation that God has a reason for everything is eventually proven at
    the end of the book. The author could have kept out some of the boring,
    less important parts and made the book a little shorter. Overall, I
    enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to any teenager or
    adult. The end of the story reminds me of the Scarlet Letter because of
    the mysteries that are revealed. If you like inspiring books about young
    friendship and the boys’ quest for faith, you should read A Prayer for
    Owen Meany.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is by John Irving, a man who has won man

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is by John Irving, a man who has won many awards
    for his best seller. This book is a fiction based on Christianity and
    friendship. Readers finishing high school and beyond could enjoy this
    book. However, it is quite long. The title really agrees with the story,
    but mostly at the end. The cover does not do this book justice. The best
    part of A Prayer for Owen Meany really is the story inside of the cover.
    The characters, such as Johnny and Owen, go through a journey of faith,
    family, and friendship. It is easy to feel a connection with these boys,
    since Irving created them to be so lifelike. By reading Owen’s “voice”,
    you can almost feel what it would be to hear him talking to you and
    getting goose bumps from the powerful worlds that come from this very
    little boy. Johnny narrates the book, as a troubled young boy, who lost
    his mother due to a tragic baseball accident. We join him on a journey
    of why he should have faith and why it was important. Can Owen help make
    him a believer? I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of the strong
    connection one can get with each character. It’s easy to connect with
    having a part in your life where you began to question faith. I love how
    Owen, though little, has such a strong faith that his life revolves
    around. I would recommend this book to anyone questioning faith.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2012

    This is a must read!!!!!

    I was hooked from beginning to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    Prayer for Owen Meany

    This is one book that will always remain with you,,it really makes you re-evaluate alot of things. I was required to read this bk for my senior ap english class in high school,and after reading it I understood why.

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    For all the praise John Irving recieves, I wasn't impressed

    I read "A Prayer for Owen Meany" for my summer reading assignment. It was recommended to me by my english teacher since I enjoyed reading "If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me up and Ship Me Home" by Tim O'brien. "A Prayer for Owen Meany" was hard to follow because the main character goes between talking about his current life as a middle-aged man living in Canada back to his childhood in Gravesend, New Hampshire. It really got enjoyable during the last 2 or three chapters. There are a grand total of 9 chapters in this 600+ page book, with the final chapter being over 100 pages long.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2006

    Ho Hum

    This book tended to drag on a bit for my liking. Too many unnecessary details. The characters were likable, but I was not interested in the political perspective of the book and stopped reading about halfway through. I hate giving up on books, but I had to let this one go. I will say, however, that calling the book obscene I think is jumping off the deep end. It is not filled with sex scenes just describes lust from the point of view of pre-adolescent boys. Big whoop.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2005

    A prayer for Owen Meany

    When first reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving I was rather offended, getting the feeling that my religion was being degraded. Although I never chose to be catholic the book made me feel as if I should regret my decision to believe in God through Catholicism. Although I felt offended a little, I agreed with some of the points being portrayed. Some of the points showed that Catholicism isn¿t really about God, there is to many tangible things that don¿t really connect us to God, that we don¿t truly have faith, we pretend. I agree with this argument, but I also do not believe that that was the main theme or point of the book. I believe the main theme was that faith can not exsist if there is doubt, faith is trust it is knowledge and experience. You must know that there is a God you can not simply believe. This is taught to one through the main character Owen Meany, who has faith that he is God¿s little instrument. Through symbolism and adventures Owen is able to teach his best friend Johnny that seeing isn¿t always believing. A Prayer for Owen Meany is written by a fantastic author. John Irving who has written approximately eight other novels is an eloquent story teller. Irving sets the story up in a small town in New Hampshire around the time of Vietnam, a time and place very known to him since he himself experienced this. Although Irving uses his characters to get through to us his opinions on both religion and the Vietnam War, his characters are very pronounced and greatly detailed, one feels as though they were standing there with them through out their lives. Owen Meany who believes that he is God¿s instrument is a tiny boy with an odd voice, but one who made an impact on almost all the lives around him. It made you idolize his abilities to reveal God¿s ways, which he taught to his friend Johnny through out the book using symbols. Johnny the narrator is always dependent on Owen, something that he can not thank him for until it is too late. It is not until later in Johnny¿s life that he realizes how much Owen did for him. The book mainly containing sad endings and deaths does have its light parts though as childhood embarrassments and typical boyhood ¿aging rituals¿ are shared with the reader. The book is written in such a format that Johnny the narrator goes back and forth between his current life and his memories of his best friends, making it seem as though he goes off on random tangents. The tangents all make sense in the end and one is able to figure out the plot of the story in an anticlimactic ending. The book clearly portrays the triumph of good over evil and the thought that America is going down hill. It is also a characteristic of Irving to have a character who is the odd one out, in this case it is Owen. The whole book in itself is a mystery, with suspense on every page. It leaves the reader both questioning themselves and their way of life as well as the characters actions. Although I did enjoy the book and it was hard to put down I felt that it was not meant for my age group (high school). The book based on religious things is for meant for people who can relate to it either by time period or if they are serious religious believers, most likely people in their thirties to forties with more life experience. I would recommend it for those who seem to enjoy books on faith. As well as for those going through some hard times, reading this book makes on re-examine their own life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2004

    Touching, but a Little Too Sappy

    I had to read this book for my AP English class, and I have to admit it was one of the better books I've read in a while, but it just seemed too unrealistic. It was good until the end when everything just fit together too perfectly and became ridiculous when Owen took over John's father's body!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2004

    Good story, with overworked themes

    While reading this book for a freshman honors course, I was intrigued by the story, and the mystery that it presents, but dissapointed by the overly blunt and overworked elements of religion and foreshadowing. While Owen is sometimes and interesting character, his moral superiority and religious exclusion bothered me greatly. Thus, I didn't like him. And the religious metaphors that are sprinkled throughout the book (a staple big enough to staple Christ to the cross) were too often used. While the general elements of the story were good, the lasting impression was simply annoying.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2003

    risky

    this book is a risk. that's why i gave it a rating of three stars. i enjoyed the book but i have a feeling that the book may be over powering for most people. its long and at some points bores but the 'mystery' of the book keeps you intrigued until the very end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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