Goodreads rating: 4.20/5 (144K+ ratings)
My rating: 9/10
First published: March 1989
Genre: Coming-of-age, Modern Fiction
I don’t even know what to say about this novel. It’s pretty fantastic. The only reason I marked it down was because it took me FOREVER to read and there was slightly too much religious references which bored me a bit.
Basic story – Johnny is a boy who lives with his single mother (he does not know who is father is), and his grandmother, and eventually a stepfather. Owen Meany is his best friend – a small, high-pitched boy who lives with his granite mining father and his mute mother. Owen is strange – weird, odd, unusual. Johnny is a regular boy, until Owen accidentally kills his mother (not a spoiler – it’s on the back cover!).
This story is about Johnny & Owen’s lives together in the small New England town of Gravesend, before and after the day Johnny’s mother dies. It’s about Owen’s belief he can see the future, Johnny’s confusion and intrigue about who his father really is, and how they cope with these things through their teenage years.
With flashes to Johnny’s future life, you start to figure out the fate of some important characters by how he refers to them. To begin with, I found this annoying because I didn’t want to know what was going to happen, but I soon realised this was the point… Apparently some people found the ending to be a disappointment, and without revealing too much, I thought the ending was perfect and exactly how it should’ve been. This story is well written and captivating, and leaves you wanting to know more about the characters and what will happen to them. I highly recommend it – and if the religious parts get too much, push through… it’s worth it.
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. I make no claims to have a life in Christ, or with Christ—and certainly not for Christ, which I’ve heard some zealots claim. - First paragraph
“The main thing is, Johnny,” Dan Needham said, “you have to show Owen that you love him enough to trust anything with him—to not care if you do or don’t get it back. It’s got to be something he knows you want back. That’s what makes it special.”
She appeared to want nothing from life but a child and a loving husband; it is important to note these singulars—she did not want children, she wanted me, just me, and she got me; she did not want men in her life, she wanted a man, the right man, and shortly before she died, she found him.
His name was Dan Needham. How many times I have prayed to God that he was my real father!
“I’M JUST WARNING YOU,” he said. “IT’S EXCITING TO LOOK FOR YOUR FATHER, BUT DON’T EXPECT TO BE THRILLED WHEN YOU FIND HIM. I HOPE YOU KNOW WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR ANOTHER DAN!”
Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory, but it has you!
“A GREAT ACTOR DOESN’T NEED A FACE,” Owen said.