Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book Review:A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany

As promised weeks ago, I am going to start reviewing some of my favourite books and movies. I thought I would start off with A Prayer for Owen Meany.  Author John Irving claims the opening line of Owen Meany is best he has ever written:

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice - not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany

What follows is a story written in the first person by Johnny Wheelwright, a boy orphaned by a rogue baseball at a young age, and his relationship to Owen Meany.  From the accident that links them to the mystery that folllows them and the martydom that parts them the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith... (exerpt from back cover).

I am a Christian, which many of you know.  That is I believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and the promise of eternal relationship with God through faith in what Jesus has done.  I am not a Christian because of Owen Meany.  I found the story interesting and insightful - an insight into someone with a different understanding of faith than I have.  I do not know what John Irving thinks about Jesus and it occurs to me that the book may be a mock up of the Christian faith as much as the opening line would appear in support of it.  There is no fierce direction or clear conclusion at the end, which of course, is one of the reasons I loved this book.  It indeed left me thinking for weeks afterwards.

I was enticed into reading the book by the promise of many "laugh out loud"moments, and indeed, I was to be found on the couch, at work and in the park laughing deliriously out-loud. I could equally be found filled with sadness and loss, and as the book concluded there was less laughing and more reflection.

The early chapters set out a jigsaw puzzle of types and concludes by filling in the missing pieces.  A Prayer for Owen Meany is part coming of age story, part fairy tale (of the non Disney type), part political and religious commentary.  The character development is superbly well done and the rich interweaving lives of the characters a delight to read.

This is novel writing at its best, you will not be disappointed.

Trace  xx


  1. Now I remember. This book has also prompted the sobbing of great tears. Sobbing of the hiccupy kind. About a year ago, BBC radio aired a four part reading of Owen. I started listening, wincing a little at the start, in case they mucked up Owen's voice. But they didn't. And I laughed big and sobbed more tears too.

    And I blame my love of capitals on Owen.

  2. We must have read the same review as I bought it after reading "whenever I saw someone laughing out loud while reading on the subway, they were always reading "A Prayer for Owen Meany"." But honestly, I struggled through it. It's really clever, and a lot of the characters are extremely likeable, but maybe it was too "American" for me or something...
    I can see why it's a bit of a classic, but it certainly didn't grab me. Maybe I should try it again when I'm not sleep deprived with tiny babies and only reading 3 paragraphs a night!
    Do you think that could have been my problem?

  3. Such a great idea of yours, reviewing books. Sometimes I just don't know what to read. It's good to have new opinions. Thanks for the touching review!!!

  4. Hello Tracey,

    I feel I should probably read this book, partly because I have an Owen that calls his sister Meany because he can't say Beanie! LOL


Why hello there, thanks for commenting!