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A Prayer for Owen Meany [Mass Market Paperback]

John Irving
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (920 customer reviews)

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Book by John Irving

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Darlene TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:MP3 CD
A Prayer for Owen Meany is told in the first-person by Johnny Wheelwright, the illegitimate son of Tabitha Wheelwright who comes from a well-to-do family in Gravesend, New Hampshire. The timeline alternates from the present-day where Johnny is in his mid-40s to his childhood. He attributes his belief in God to his childhood friend, Owen Meany.

I think we all knew an "Owen Meany" in school: The boy who was smaller than average and who everyone picked on. The children weren't actually cruel to Owen, but they took pleasure in passing Owen over their heads from hand to hand because he was so light. Even though Johnny participated in this type of behaviour, he did consider Owen to be his best friend. Although he is diminutive in size, Owen has a big personality and is very forthright in expressing his feelings.

As Johnny and Owen grow up together, we see that Owen is steadfast in his belief that everything in his life happens for a reason. During the play of A Christmas Carol, Owen - who is portraying the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come - has a revelation. When he points out the headstone to the man playing Scrooge, Owen sees his own name on the headstone along with his dates of birth and death. While he does share that he sees his own name on the gravestone, he does not reveal to anyone the date of his death.

Owen lives his life with the knowledge of when and how he is going to die, as evidenced (in his mind) by the prophecy of both of his vision and his recurring dream about his death. He does not divulge all the details to anyone, not even Johnny. He truly believes that God's plan for him is to die a hero, and he accepts this destiny.

I do not want to say too much because I do not want to spoil the story for anyone who has not read it yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in a repetitive story Dec 19 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Friends at work raved about this book. Having read other books by John Irving (Hotel New Hampshire, World According to Garp) and enjoying other books these friends had recommended, I thought it might be interesting. Irving's style wasn't exactly what I normally read, but the books of his I'd read so far certainly had interesting stories.
Unfortunately, A Prayer for Owen Meany struck me as repetitive. The same plot points were repeated several times. There were a few sections that were interesting and/or funny. I kept reading, hoping that the story would pick up, or, at least, stop repeating, but it never happened. I kept going, based on the recommendations. After reading about half of the book, I just had to stop. I decided I'd rather spend what little time I have to read recreationally reading a more interesting book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lacks faith April 3 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am perplexed as to how anyone can give this book a five star review. The premise at the beginning is that Owen Meany's friend (who tells the story) learns faith. As a child he lacks it and at the end of the book as an adult he possesses even less. Owen has little to no faith either in his life, except for his significant purpose that does realistically in the end attach him to God and faith and purpose. But he fails to inspire Johnny onto any real faith of his own. My guess is John Irving doesn't know enough about faith to write about it convincingly. Great lengths of this novel -- and totally irrelevant to the story line -- are committed to a liberal bash of Ronald Reagan, too. If that inspires the reader, go for it. But once again I was more impressed that Irving didn't know what he was talking about. Another dislike was Irving's tendency toward perversity in every scene of action. Once or twice okay, but the barage created redundancy and detracted from some otherwise good storytelling. I was very disappointed in the quality.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book. Feb. 11 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book had been recommended to me years ago but I had never gotten around to reading it. I'm not religious at all but Irving's message did not feel like proselytizing. A wonderful story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Aug. 25 2013
By Joe
This is the only book I have read by this author, so I can't say anything about his other works, but this book was very good and I highly recommend it even if you are not a fan of the genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian Writers Are The Best July 15 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One of the best books of all time. Great writer great read. Good delivery fast and secure thank you for the book sir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!!!!!!! June 20 2013
By suzy7
Format:Mass Market Paperback

I buy it for every friend. It made me laugh so much and it made me smile all the time. I love the FRIENDSHIP in this story. I LOVE the characters, I never wanted it to end. Thanks so much for this book!!!!!! If you want a book you can curl up with and get totally lost in the GREAT story then this is the book you need to buy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars John Irving and his world March 23 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY is a fascinating book, but it won't be for everyone. Irving has indeed created an odd couple of characters: Owen Meany, the dwarfish youth with high-pitched voice of stunning self-importance that wavers between arrogance one moment and self-sacrificial lamb of God the next, and his sidekick Johnny Wheelwright, illegitimate child of a striking, freespirited woman soon killed off by a baseball Owen accidentally slams across the baseball field during a Little League game to hit its killing blow against her temple. Not that this would destroy the odd friendship of these two. Indeed, it bonds them for life.

As for Owen, he doesn't believe in accidents, especially not this one. What transpires through the remainder of the story, tracing the lives of these two from children into adulthood, is a complex weave of seeming circumstance into eventual climactic conclusion that rather neatly ties many loose threads together into a tight knot. Owen has foreseen his own death by a visionary dream, and he never doubts, at least not until the final days of his life, that this dream is the beacon guiding him home (home being, for Owen, heaven for those who would enter through the gates of martyrdom).

In the process of these two strange lives, topics of destiny and fate, religion, American politics and foreign policy, various rites of passage from childhood into adulthood, and other miscellaneous lighter and deeper issues are undertaken. These, too, all come together into the neat knot at the book's end. The only other novel that came together this way for me (and everyone else) was THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD with its equally strange characters and situations.

Irving is a quality writer.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Top all time favourite
I am an avid reader of literary fiction. I just finished The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. (which is very good) to give an example. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gail Christoff
5.0 out of 5 stars swift clean with no "oldy" odors
Read about three pages when I realized that the movie "simon Birch" was adapted from this book. this is one instance when I can say the movie was as good as the book. Read more
Published 22 months ago by L. clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars liked the book about topics I hate
This book is religious, political, involves war and is very long. All of those things I don't like but I liked this book. Read more
Published on May 25 2010 by A. Jacques
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of all time
Here are my two cents worth about this book. I firmly believe that reading this book changed my life. It certainly changed my opinions about John Irving. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2009 by V. Hudson
1.0 out of 5 stars 1 star is too high...
Sorry to go against everyone who rated this book ten, but this is by far, without a doubt the WORST book i have ever read. The plot is awful. Read more
Published on March 25 2008 by Jim Bag
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving's best
Have you ever read a book that was so good you read everything else that author wrote hoping against hope that there was another gem in there somewhere? This is that book. Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2007 by Dan Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a WOW!! book
I can't even begin to describe how awesome this book was, nor how to describe the story of Owen Meany and his childhood friend Johnny Wheelright. Read more
Published on May 13 2007 by Misfit
5.0 out of 5 stars Sustained meditation on the intricacies of Providence
Take a good dose of Dickens, add a twist of Augustine, a pinch of Kafka and Cervantes, a dash of John Calvin and Romans, blend with some modern political commentary and some... Read more
Published on April 27 2007 by Albert C. Petite Jr.
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