Author: John Irving,
Published by: Ballintine Books, 2009
Reviewed by: Nellie
From his very first sentence John Irving pulled me into A Prayer for Owen Meany. Irving, himself says of this sentence, "I may write a better first sentence to a novel than that of A Prayer for Owen Meany, but I doubt it." This is a story about self-determination or lack of it. It is about Destiny and about making things happen for yourself. It is about being prepared for your destiny when it appears.
Yes, this novel is about those things and more. It is about the unforgettable character Owen Meany who gets our attention from his very first utterance. Owen Meany, a tiny boy who looses control and rages when his Sunday School class lifts him up over their heads causing his teacher to exclaim, ". . . Owen Meany. . . You get down from there." (What was she thinking?)
John Irving skillfully introduces us to the characters of Gravesend New Hampshire. Every one of them have a purpose to the story. Each character and many of their names are important to the story. It wouldn't be the same without any one of them. How people react to Owen Meany says much about their character and determines much about how their lives turn out.
While the story is about Owen Meany, destiny, God and the people they encounter, it is incidently a story about the times - a story about the 60's and its aftermath. It is a story about America and its own destiny.
Owen Meany, a child and a man comfortable with the hardness of granite had a distinctive voice could not be ignored or forgotten. Irving's voice, in this novel is also not easily forgotten. He has made me laugh with stories that still make me smile and he has made me question what I know about life and about what is important. A Prayer for Owen Meany is not a story that happens every day. It is as unique as is Owen himself, as unique as every character of Gravesend and as unique as each of us are as we search out and meet our own destiny.