My daughter asked me to read this book several months ago, and I began it but let other things get in the way of finishing it. She urged me many times to read it. She studied the book during this past year, her junior year at a Catholic high school. She has asked me many times if I had started reading the book again.
This week I did read the book; I started the book again and just now finished the last page within the past hour. Holly and I went out to lunch today and talked a LOT about the book - then I was on page 485. There was a lot she couldn't tell me. There were some things I suspected also. I was wondering how so much could get wrapped up in only another 100 or so pages. I was worried that I would not be moved by the ending since so much was all about the ending. With as much as I did discern from the hints given by the book, I was glad that I did not foresee the most affecting aspect of the book's end. It's the kind of thing that you just don't want to talk about. In fact, I felt like I could not talk to ANYONE for several hours during and after reading the end of this book.
That's just an example of how much the book does affect one. It's been so long since I have read any fiction and this book will certainly change that. The nature of what I do for a living is so different from a book like this that it's a welcome and refreshing and inspiring and comforting thing to spend time with these characters and this story.
I don't know if this is just my own projection, but after reading the book and the blurbs on the back from various newspapers describing the book, these descriptions did not match my experience of the book. It was a profoundly sad, lonely, painful, and tragic story from start to finish - for almost every character in the book.
I remember when I was very active in my first church, we all thought that no one else could understand faith or religion if they were not the exact same kind of believers that we were. I struggled with that back and forth and still do to this day but in a different way. To this day, regardless of where I stand on the religious pendulum of my inner world, I still feel surprised when I read a writer who is as familiar with scripture as we were with the same reverence and understanding and even belief yet without having to divorce himself from dismissing other people as not being true believers because of some doctrinal disagreement (doctrine extending to where one stands regarding homosexuality included).
Holly and I both feel like our little dog Oliver reminds us of Owen Meany because he is small, misshapen, afflicted in his own way with fatal flaws, and very funny and loving to his family and friends. If he could talk, his voice would be like Owen's. So to us, he is now Oliver Owen Meany, to which he would probably say, "I'M NOT A MEANY; DON'T CALL ME A MEANY."
One of my favorite expressions from this book is when Owen tells John that the book he read which covers the history of their town is FULL OF WHEELWRIGHTS. But one of the saddest parts of the book, to me, is that John Wheelwright ends up as the lone surviving Wheelwright, with only his stepfather as his occasional friend to visit twice a year, no other friends, no family, and his lifelong BEST friend a constant memory.
Now what I want to do is read what OTHERS (who know what they're talking about) have written about A Prayer for Owen Meany.