A Prayer for Owen Meany is a book that takes you on a whirlwind through time and leaves you flipped upside down. The ending isn’t very dramatic, but the parts in between draw you in, wring you out, and leave you satisfied. It’s a book where I wasn’t left wishing for a sequel, but I also wasn’t bored while reading it.
The character of Owen is not always likeable, which to most people would mean they don’t like the book, but since John sticks by Owen, I felt that I must as well. In addition, I didn’t realize that I didn’t like Owen until halfway through the book when he entered high school. Owen starts as a very loyal, albeit odd, friend, but he becomes a selfish, arrogant, and manipulative young man. Somehow though, by the end of the book, I realized that Owen may have appeared selfish and arrogant, and maybe he was, he always stuck by John. I don’t have the book handy, but towards the end of the book, John is reading Owen’s diary; in it Owen wrote that cutting off John’s finger was the hardest thing he ever had to do. (Now you’ll have to read the book to find out why Owen HAD to do it.) At the time, John thought that Owen showed no emotion about cutting off his finger.
The other characters in the book really only play contribuing roles to Owen’s title role. There are many memorable characters though: Dan, Mr Fish and his dog, all of the reverends, especially Reverend Merrill, the teacher and his wife at Gravesend Academy, Grandmother and her servants, the TV, John’s cousins, Owen’s parents, and many more. I can’t really tell you why they are all so memorable without giving away parts of the book.
What’s the book saying?
This is a hard question. There are many statements the book could be making, but it’s hard to nail down exactly what those statements are. The most obvious and concrete statement is that true friends are loyal. What I can definitively say is that the book is saying something about friends. John sticks with Owen despite the murderous baseball hit, Owen’s disturbing dreams, and Owen’s bizarre protests. Owen demonstrates his loyalty by choosing to wait a year to enter high school so that he and John could be in the same class. Later he also chooses to attend a less prestigious college where John is attending (although that decision could have been influenced by other factors).
The book also makes several religious and political statements, but I think I need to re-read the book before attempting to enlighten you on those.
The book left me feeling…I really don’t know how to describe what I felt. I won’t say it’s the best book I’ve ever read, but the characters are so intense and real that I was left feeling like I wanted to visit this place. It’s not a book I will re-read soon, but it is one that I want to re-read at some point in my future.
I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 18, simply because of the language and the sexual references.
I’d give this a book a 4 out of 5.
Sometime in the future, I will make a post about the book compared to the movie. Maybe that will help me get my thoughts more together about the book.