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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Audiobook Review: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

AUTHOR: John Irving 
NARRATOR: Joe Barrett
PUBLISHER: Brilliance Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2009 (first published March 7, 1989)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 26 hrs and 51 mins
GENRE: Literary Fiction, Classics
John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. 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.
MY REVIEW:

A Prayer for Owen Meany is told in the first-person by Johnny Wheelwright, the illegitimate son of Tabitha Wheelwright who comes from a well-to-do family in Gravesend, New Hampshire. The timeline alternates from the present-day where Johnny is in his mid-40s to his childhood. He attributes his belief in God to his childhood friend, Owen Meany.

I think we all knew an “Owen Meany” in school: The boy who was smaller than average and who everyone picked on. The children weren’t actually cruel to Owen, but they took pleasure in passing Owen over their heads from hand to hand because he was so light. Even though Johnny participated in this type of behaviour, he did consider Owen to be his best friend. Although he is diminutive in size, Owen has a big personality and is very forthright in expressing his feelings.

As Johnny and Owen grow up together, we see that Owen is steadfast in his belief that everything in his life happens for a reason. During the play of A Christmas Carol, Owen – who is portraying the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come  – has a revelation. When he points out the headstone to the man playing Scrooge, Owen sees his own name on the headstone along with his dates of birth and death. While he does share that he sees his own name on the gravestone, he does not reveal to anyone the date of his death.

Owen lives his life with the knowledge of when and how he is going to die, as evidenced (in his mind) by the prophecy of both of his vision and his recurring dream about his death. He does not divulge all the details to anyone, not even Johnny. He truly believes that God’s plan for him is to die a hero, and he accepts this destiny.

I do not want to say too much because I do not want to spoil the story for anyone who has not read it yet. While this tome is lengthy at nearly 27 hours (the printed book is over 600 pages), the story moved along at a good pace. I fell in love with Owen Meany with all of his idiosyncrasies and the way he viewed the world. While most of us would be fearful of having a vision of our deaths, Owen embraced it and it gave him purpose in his life.

Narrator Joe Barrett brought Owen Meany to life! He uses a high-pitched, child-like voice for Owen, which is true to Irving’s description of him. I am so glad that I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the book myself because I think that Barrett brought something special to the story in his portrayal of Owen. Barrett is a new-to-me narrator, and his voice held me in rapt attention. His narration made me feel as though we were sitting together, as he recounted his past to me.

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. This is my first Irving novel, and I am planning to read more from this author.

MY RATING:

5 stars! It was superb! I loved it, and I will likely re-read it again in the future! You should definitely read it!

This book qualifies as: 

2 comments:

  1. Wow 27 hours! You are a trooper!
    I remember reading and loving this back in high school but I honestly can't remember too many of the details. Maybe Ill have to give it a re read via audiobook

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Christa! Yes, it is long...but the pace of the book was good and I never felt bored or felt like the book was dragging. The narrator, Joe Barrett, will keep you entertained!

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