Book Review: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Book Review:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

06.30.2011

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

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Category: Fiction

Author: John Irving

Format: Trade Paperback, 635 pages

Publisher: Vintage Canada

ISBN: 978-0-676-97403-4

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

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A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is a book that even with its complicated plot and story is at its core, a microcosm and testament to the long, historical argument between undeniable religious faith and scepticism.

And while the narrator of the book, John Wheelwright, testifies and credits his faith in Christianity to the character, Owen Meany, his voice in the book is somewhat ambiguous throughout where his struggle between his personal faith and doubt is often blurred.

To John, Owen Meany is the embodiment of miracle: his supernatural visions and dreams, his own belief in himself as God’s direct instrument on people’s lives, and his prophetic knowledge of his own death all seem to point him towards messianic attributes that leads John to a fervent friendship and faith more in the power of Owen Meany himself, rather than God.

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Owen Meany, himself, becomes representative of the relationship between the natural and supernatural world where his extremely small features, his high-pitched, nasal voice, and his strangely coloured skin all point him to a bizarre other-worldliness. Even his own conviction in the absolution of God’s will is honourable whereas his conviction in his own power as God’s instrument can be seen as one of profound spirituality, if not a borderline narcissism.

The main character’s narrative is a memory-induced re-telling that is both memoir and psychological rambling of his past: his childhood, his dissection of religious faith, the helplessness against the injustice of God’s will and fate, and his own personal American angst.

Together, the book reveals the nature of the spiritual condition of humankind, the pain caused by injustice, loss, and the struggle to reconcile one’s own faith in the power of friendship and God.

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Zara’s Rating

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I read A Prayer for Owen Meany for the Random Reading Challenge from May to June 2012.

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