A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication Date: March 1989
Categories: Literary
Source: My own copy

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.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

My Thoughts:


Okay, enough of that. It’s annoying.

I think I read Owen Meany at just the right time for me. If I had read this in ’89, when it first came out, it wouldn’t have affected me as much as it did.

When Irving goes on about A Christmas Carol I got it. I’ve acted in the play and I recognized all of the lines. When The Great Gatsby was discussed I felt excited because I’ve recently re-read it. Johnny is a bit obsessed with politics and the news. Hey, me too! Etc., etc.

This quote pretty much sums up my life:

“Newspapers are a bad habit, the reading equivalent of junk food. What happens to me is that I seize upon an issue in the news—the issue is the moral/philosophical, political/intellectual equivalent of a cheeseburger with everything on it; but for the duration of my interest in it, all my other interests are consumed by it, and whatever appetites and capacities I may have had for detachment and reflection are suddenly subordinate to this cheeseburger in my life! I offer this as self-criticism; but what it means to be “political” is that you welcome these obsessions with cheeseburgers—at great cost to the rest of your life.” 

I chuckled my way throughout the whole book. Owen is such a character. Is there anyone like him in the history of books? I think not. His views and shenanigans are priceless. There’s a scene involving the headmaster, a car, and a set of stairs that sent me over the hysterical edge. (Seriously. The BAHAHAHA kind of laughter that had my family wondering what was wrong with me.)

When I wasn’t laughing I was wiping away tears. There were so many moments when I felt choked up. This book is emotional and poignant. The end…oh sweet Jesus, the end!

Have you read A Prayer for Owen Meany? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? 

75 thoughts on “A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

  1. I have never been drawn to this book, ever. But…maybe I should try?? (Seriously, it seems so unappealing but your all caps is also so appealing!)


  2. I'm so glad you liked it! I read this a couple years ago in Budapest. I ran out of books on a backpacking trip and found a little English language bookstore there and got a copy. I loved it so much and it always takes me back to that trip. The character of Owen, the intensity of the ending, so wonderful!


  3. I love this book. I listened to it via audio, so I *really* got to know Owen's voice very well. The ending is just outstanding. My favorite Irving novel, by far.


  4. The movie just looked horrible to me and my wife, who both love the book. From the reviews, it sounded like they changed a lot. BUT maybe some day.Agree with you, Jennifer, on the caps. Annoying, in hindsight. At the time I read it originally not so much, but since those CAPS ARE PRETTY DAMNED ANNOYING. Speaking of Blogger, on your blog, I would like an option to comment with my name and URL instead of having to use Google. It takes too long for others to find my blog that way since it's not a Blogger blog. Just something to think about adding.


  5. This seems like such a great book! I've never read anything by the author, but I think I'll be ordering this one from my bookshop 🙂 It sounds like exactly what I need to read right now. Thanks!


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