A Prayer for Owen Meany LP by John Irving

77%

37 Critic Reviews

It is a brave and subtly disturbing affirmation of faith, and it is all the more remarkable for its engagement with the deepest questions, the most painful mysteries of our lives.
-LA Times

Synopsis

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.

 

About John Irving

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John Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning in 1980 for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He won the 2000 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Irving's most recent novel is In One Person (2012).
 
Published January 1, 1989 by Morrow. 560 pages
Genres: Other, Literature & Fiction, History, Religion & Spirituality, Sports & Outdoors, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Education & Reference, Travel, Children's Books. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 19 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for A Prayer for Owen Meany LP
All: 37 | Positive: 28 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Above average
on May 20 2010

... a novel that seems sincere but turns too bombastic and insistent in its opinions about literature, religion, and politics.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Sep 02 1991

...Irving is convincing in his appraisal of the tragedy of Vietnam and in his religious philosophizing, in which he distinguishes the true elements of faith. But that is not enough to save the meandering narrative. Owen is not the only one to hit a foul ball in this novel, which is too ``mortally cute'' for its own good.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Sep 02 2008

Irving's storytelling skills have gone seriously astray in this contrived, preachy, tedious tale...

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Zack Kopp on Apr 24 2012

From the beautifully crafted first sentence, Irving angles this one to engage the reader‘s advocation of the apparently handicapped super-self Owen...John Irving is one of the best, at least most respected, novelists in modern convention.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Allison Monroe on Apr 29 2009

Details of this book, and moments like the last scene, will stick with you long after you put the book down.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Roz Shea on Apr 13 2008

...a highly complex story with intertwining subplots, strange characters with dark secrets and Irving's very own entertaining and often hilarious narrative.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Richard Bausch on Mar 26 2008

It is a brave and subtly disturbing affirmation of faith, and it is all the more remarkable for its engagement with the deepest questions, the most painful mysteries of our lives.

Read Full Review of A Prayer for Owen Meany LP | See more reviews from LA Times

BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Taylor McKillop on Mar 29 2011

Never underestimate John Irving. The man is a major force in modern American letters. And A Prayer for Owen Meany is rewarding reading, a masterfully constructed story of fate and faith.

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People

Below average
on Apr 24 1989

...it's not enough that Irving subjects us to contrived, patronizing and irritating exercise—it takes him 543 pages to do it!

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Book Buzz

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Chain on May 14 2012

It was not a quick read by any means, and I didn’t wholeheartedly love it, overall. But Irving kept me reading, solely to hear and see more of what Owen might say or do.

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HSJ

Excellent
Reviewed by Brianna Eusebio on May 24 2008

This book is a great way to see how the path of one person can be changed by someone who is absolutely amazing.

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AnnArbor.com

Good
Reviewed by Melissa LR Handa on Jul 05 2010

“A Prayer for Owen Meany” is a powerful and emotionally touching novel.

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Booked Solid

Above average
Reviewed by victor.kralisz on Sep 06 2014

The subplots are important and bring the book to life as the boys grow into men...This is when Irving shows his narrative mastery: he proves over and over that he is in control of the plot and its implications...It’s wonderful to experience that kind of trust and satisfaction in the hands of a narrator.

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The Satirist

Excellent
Reviewed by Dan Geddes on Feb 27 2013

Irving strikes the right notes so many times because he is a story-teller in the true sense.

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Women's Inc.

Good
Reviewed by Susan O'Keefe on May 14 2015

Author John Irving is brilliant. His writing is unbelievably expressive. His tales intricately intertwine historical facts and figures...Irving covers an array of bases, emotions, and ideas...As the book concludes, it is although a hundred puzzle pieces shift seamlessly into place. There is no stone left unturned. Questions are answered.

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The Sunday Times

Good
Reviewed by Kelvin Odoobo on Mar 18 2011

A Prayer for Owen Meany contains a large cast of idiosyncratic small-town characters and has many hilarious scenes and episodes. It also contains serious political and religious themes...

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Helium

Excellent
Reviewed by D.Chazan on Aug 28 2010

...it is my opinion that this book was his masterpiece and shining glory. Read it, and you'll understand why.

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Helium

Excellent
Reviewed by Kate O'Leary on Jan 06 2010

...purchase this fabulously funny, uplifting, love story of a book that is ultimately about the ability of everyone to make a difference — no matter our age, our size or our history.

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That's What She Read

Excellent
Reviewed by Michelle on Sep 23 2010

...no matter what one’s beliefs are about faith, A Prayer for Owen Meany forces the reader to reevaluate those beliefs. Well-written and perfectly executed, it will keep one pondering the idea of faith for a long time.

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Brothers Judd

Above average
on Sep 02 2014

What we end up with here is a reasonably amusing book, which is only a simulacrum of a story of religious belief. If you do not approach it expecting anything more than a pleasant diversion, you'll not be disappointed. If you expect to be enlightened, look elsewhere.

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Reading Lark

Good
Reviewed by Paula on Feb 27 2013

From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrdom that parts them–the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith in a novel that is Irving at his irresistible best.

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Book Journey

Above average
Reviewed by Sheila on Oct 02 2011

For me, reading this book as the fictional story it is, made it enjoyable, and in the end, although not always the easiest book to follow (flash back and forwards tend to mess me up), I am thankful I had the opportunity to read it.

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Book Chatter

Good
Reviewed by Ti on Apr 27 2012

If you are tired of the formulaic plots of the books you’ve been reading and don’t mind investing some time in this classic, then by all means… pick up and copy and savor it.

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The Introverted Reader

Above average
Reviewed by Introverted Jen on Oct 01 2010

...if you're in the mood for a book that is somehow laugh-out-loud funny, ultimately touching, and a lot about faith and politics, you'll probably enjoy this one.

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Estella's Revenge

Good
Reviewed by Andi on Jul 31 2013

I will never forget Owen Meany as long as I live. Like all books, the details will fade a bit, and someday I'll probably need to re-read, but I will live with these characters for a very long time.

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Reviews From The Heart

Excellent
Reviewed by Heart2Heart on Apr 03 2012

I highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a great feel good book with purpose and John delivers!

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Caribous Mom

Excellent
Reviewed by Wendy on Sep 18 2007

Read this book. You will laugh, and cry and be compelled to look deeper into the meaning of life. Irving does not disappoint.

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Darlene's Book Nook

Excellent
Reviewed by Darlene on Jul 12 2012

A Prayer for Owen Meany is a very thought-provoking story. I loved the book, and I thought that Irving wrapped up all the pieces of the story brilliantly! I literally had goose bumps at the end of the book.

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Prolific Living

Excellent
on Sep 02 2014

It is for Owen Meany that I read this book. I loved the character, mindset, thoughts, actions, words, perspective and impact of this small boy who never grows and his strange voice which never changes.

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http://www.complete-review.com

Below average
on Sep 02 2014

A major regret we have is that we think Irving underestimates his own estimable talents, here as elsewhere: he should be willing to risk more...Owen Meany is a decent, big, generally very enjoyable read, but Irving is capable of more.

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http://www.sheilaomalley.com

Good
Reviewed by Sheila on Nov 19 2007

...I think the whole bursting-into-sobs-at-the-last-sentence thing made me hesitant to pick it up again. My first reading of the book was so perfect, so utterly engrossing...

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The Feminist Texican Reads

Below average
on Aug 03 2013

Ultimately, I wasn’t quite as taken with the book as pretty much everyone else in the entire world seems to be...

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Reviewed by Mom

Above average
Reviewed by Kristin Jordan on Apr 20 2012

I highly recommend this book and any other book John Irving has written. Many of Irving 's novels have been made into movies. But please, do yourself a big favor, read the book first.

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Utah Mom's Life

Good
Reviewed by Cindi on Oct 14 2011

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is a lovely piece of literature, destined to become a well beloved classic.

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Toothy Books

Good
Reviewed by Toothy on May 08 2012

A Prayer for Owen Meany was a superbly wonderful book and one that I would highly recommend to everyone...now I can’t wait to watch the movie. I just hope it does the book justice.

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Pieces Blog

Below average
Reviewed by Michelle on Dec 15 2011

I got so sick of Irving’s allusions to what was going to happen to Owen Meany that when it actually happened I was too numb to appreciate what should have been an extremely powerful scene.

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Yet There Are Statues

Above average
on May 31 2005

Ultimately I think A Prayer for Owen Meany is a hopeless contradiction. It’s full of well-written…even wonderfully written…anecdotes that fail to mean anything when placed together.

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Reader Rating for A Prayer for Owen Meany LP
85%

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Terri McGinty 23 May 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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