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A Prayer for Owen Meany Paperback – May 1 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (May 1 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552993697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552993692
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (920 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #159,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darlene TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 12 2012
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 By Ellen Shay on 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 By A Customer on April 3 2000
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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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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By Joe on Aug. 25 2013
Format: Paperback
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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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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By suzy7 on June 20 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I LOVED LOVED LOVED A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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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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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