First of all, this book is a piece of brilliant writing and fantastic story-telling. It is easy to fall in love with the diminutive and irreverent Owen Meany. John Irving is a great writer, though as I note that, I realize I’ve only read one of his other books. Perhaps I should check out his other work. Or maybe it is possible he hit heights with Owen Meany that he never achieved again.
Either way, the second thing about this book is that about 95% in, it is just an enjoyable novel. Its the last few pages where my mouth nearly hit the floor. I was shocked. I may have even cried. That ending…
Knowing the ending, the book was even richer upon a reread. As a Christian, I see much worthy of theological and philosophical reflection in this book. Why does suffering happen? Why does so much in life not make sense? I’m not sure what Irving’s personal faith is, but this book is a wonderful reflection on one possible way things we do not understand may be working towards some good. The story reminds me that its hard to see where things are going when you’re stuck in the middle. But hopefully at the end, they’ll all make sense.
That’s what separates the good books from the great ones, isn’t it. There’s nothing wrong with a fun book that grips your imagination and helps you escape from life for a few moments. Yet its the ones that make you reassess how you view real life, the ones that can’t stay in the other world of escape but press into this one, that are fantastic. Irving’s masterpiece does that almost better than any book I’ve read.