Book Review – A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Someone convinced me to pick up this modern classic because it’s “so highly reviewed”. I started reading it way back during my library’s Book BINGO because it crossed off the “read a book published in the year you were born” square. Weeks and weeks later, here we are.

Book 36:
A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

Fiction, Modern Classic, Contemporary Literature

March 1989

Synopsis According to Mandi:
Without spoilers, A Prayer for Owen Meany is about the friendship between Owen Meany and John Wheelwright after Owen Meany murders John’s mom via an accidental, Little League foul ball at the age of 11. Naturally, their lives are forever changed – John is parentless and Owen believes he is God’s instrument. Together, they navigate some of their most formative years in the wake of this tragedy, maintaining the deepest of friendships.

Favorite Quote(s):

“Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!”

– John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

Awards (based upon my brief research):
None noted.


My Overall Rating:
2 – It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I was reading a book that was “required reading” for a class. Required reading for work? Sure, I’ve had that, but this one put me right back in high school. It averages 4.23 stars on GoodReads with over 270,000 ratings. How could I dislike it as much as I did?

Here’s my problem: The first 50 pages and the last 50 pages were solid. Everything in between felt slice-of-life-like, and that is just not a style I can get into. To make matters worse, this is a BIG book. This particular edition is 550 pages, but the pages are large and the text is small. I started in mid-July, and had to set it down and read other books while making my way through this one in order to keep myself interested in reading.

I see why it’s a modern classic, I really do. It has definite classic vibes – it hits on religious topics, it takes place in a majorly cultural transformative time (the Vietnam era) and it gives deep, deep insight into the main characters and their stories. Published in the late 1980s, it’s obviously modern. But if I had to read this for school, gag me with a spoon. Even not reading it for school was challenging, but… woof… I made it.

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