A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving

Cover ImageFinished 5-12-11, rating 2.5/5, fiction, 617 pages, pub. 1989

John and Owen have been best friends forever.  There wasn’t anything they didn’t talk about or share.  Even when Owen killed John’s mom in a fluke of fate their relationship was solid.  John narrates this story of Owen Meany, the small boy with the strange and scary voice who comes from the quarry with nothing to recommend him but his sharp mind.  The story follows their friendship over the many years and then some.

I wanted to like this book.  I expected to love this book.  The reason it was on my shelf was because I picked it up years ago after so many of my fellow booksellers told me I had to read it.  It would change my life. Then I let my fellow blogger friends choose my reading material and 10 of you, bloggers I love and trust, voted for this one.  So, I have to assume the problem is with me and I am one of a handful of people who did not like this one.  If I had not promised to read this I would have given up after I was 150 pages in last summer.

So, why didn’t I like it?  The details, all of those tedious details, made the story travel at a snail’s pace and I felt like I was reading in quicksand.  Not that I didn’t like Owen or the grandmother and Dan, but it was hard to maintain my enthusiasm.  It was a little like reading someone’s daily diary.  There’s some good stuff in there, but you have to wade through all the rest of the stuff no one but the diarist cares about.

It is very political and anti-church (not anti-God).  I had no problem with either of these issues.  I actually agreed with most of Irving’s thoughts here.  But that was probably part of the problem for me.  I felt like I was reading very long paragraphs and sometimes pages of Irving’s views that did little to advance the story.

Okay, so please don’t hate me for not liking this one.  There were parts I loved, I enjoyed their time and exploits at the Academy.  This was my favorite part of the novel.  I was charmed by Owen, but not enough.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Mary, Kathy, Hannah, Linda, Em, Jennifer, MsMazzola, Jessica, Mille, and Margie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“The best structured suspense novel I’ve ever read. I’m not a huge fan of Irving, but this one makes it on to my best books list all the time.”  Mille

“I love Irving, he is funny and Owen Meany will break your heart.”  MsMazzola

“Because I’m hoping to read it in 2010, too.”  Jennifer

“I tried other books by this author and couldn’t get into them, but I loved Owen Meany and have recommended it to others.”  Linda

“Classic. Needs to be read.”  Em

“It’s very readable and an instant classic.”  Hannah

“You will be charmed by Owen.”  Kathy

“Because it’s very readable and a classic.”  Mary

30 thoughts on “A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving

  1. Heather says:

    Stacy, you don’t need to apologize for not liking a book! I really enjoyed The Golden Compass series even though, technically, it’s about killing God…so hey, people write books we read them and like them or don’t, totally great! Loved your review!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Thanks, Heather. I didn’t realize that was what The Golden Compass was about. I have the second of the series around here somewhere.

  2. Mary says:

    There’s that old saying that goes something like “No two people read the same book”. Or, some of my friends use “vanilla/chocolate” to describe a book that one of us loved and another, not so much. That’s the life of a reader, right? You gave it a chance, no apologies necessary 🙂

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Thanks for voting for it, Mary. Truly. I never would have finished it otherwise and I’ve always wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Ah, yes, I did have to finish it. The challenge I made was a good one. Sometimes making yourself finish a book is good for you. And more often than not it’s worth it.

  3. Bumbles says:

    I like your description – like reading through quicksand. I totally feel like that sometimes. It is soooo hard to pull yourself out. Good for you for finishing – and for your honest opinion.

  4. Heather says:

    Woops, sorry, Stacy…didn’t mean to ruin the plot for you on that one. Not that that’s all it’s about…woops! Just was giving an example on how books are books even if they had a theme of anti-god or anti-religion or pro-god or pro-religion. People have ideas and have their right to them and we can read them or not. That’s all I was saying! Sorry to spoil it for you…grrrr. So sorry;)

  5. Amused says:

    Oh I’m so sorry you didn’t like this. I loved it back in highschool when I read it. Have you seen the movie? It’s really good/cute!

  6. Caspette says:

    I dont like feeling lectured to in a book, which I get the imrepression is the case here. Do you find you still stick with a book when you know its not working? I find these days I am a lot more ruthless then I used to be. A fair review I thought 🙂

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I finished this one because it was for a challenge and I said I would. I am glad I forced myself to finish it. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment when I was finally done 🙂

  7. softdrink says:

    I’m in the handful of people that didn’t like this one, too. I thought it was way too long, and I felt like Owen was shouting at me the whole time.

  8. Thoughts of Joy says:

    I have the audiobook of this on my iPod. I know that there’s no way I could read it, but one day I still may attempt to listen to it. I’m not in a hurry. Sorry it didn’t turn out well for you.

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