John Irving is an author notorious for his “touchy” subject matter and clearly stated underlying moral theme. Yet, A Prayer for Owen Meany is a novel that really struck a chord for me. My AP Literature class read three books by the same author as a part of an enrichment project. Irving’s edgy attitude and interesting subject matter interested me. I chose The Cider House Rules first then The World According to Garp and enjoyed each one more than the last. I had no idea what to choose for my last book; however, my calculus teacher recommended her favorite Irving novel, Owen Meany for me. After borrowing her copy, I dove into an incredible literary journey.
The story follows the life of one extraordinary boy, Owen Meany, from the point of view of his best friend, John Wheelwright, effectively telling two stories for the price of one. Both characters grow up in New Hampshire often commenting about the landscape and lifestyle in New England. The main point of the work is the question of religious faith versus doubt. Irving represents the two points equally as well as creating a dichotomy of the two elements, making a character believe that doubt is the foundation for faith.
Despite the unbelievable qualities of the characters in question, they are all made to be so sympathetic all belief is suspended. Owen Meany is miniscule, genius, squeaky voiced, prophetic Jesus figure and yet one can still picture him. The plot never left me bored, made me laugh, and made me very distraught .
Some aspects of the book were unbelievable. The point of view often shifted from past to present which could get a little tiresome. Also, the main character’s political obsessions do get a bit obnoxious at times. Overall the good completely outweighs the minor poor details.
I recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany to anyone looking for a good read, suffering from religious faith crisis, or lives in New England. The story will leave you wanting to go back and read it again.