The Red Couch: A Prayer for Owen Meany introduction


What’s your favorite novel?

Answers to this question vary but there’s nothing quite like the heartbeat of recognition when someone answers with the name of your favorite novel. You understand each other in a way that others with different favorite novels do not. You are brought together by a shared love of the characters, plot, and themes. You can go deeper into the book’s insights and analysis.

It’s only a book and yet it’s so much more.

John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany has been my favorite novel for over 15 years and possibly longer than that. I’ve read it enough times, I no longer remember whether I first read it in high school or college. But surely before I turned 20.

The story is well worn and familiar but I am always moved by the same parts when I read it once more.

Still, fiction is subjective, as I noted last month. You may feel differently about Owen Meany than I do and if so, I promise I’ll try not to judge you. Much. (Kidding, kidding.)


A Prayer for Owen Meany, from the Amazon description:

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.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.


While not a Christian book, it is rich with spiritual undertones and Christological references. No matter what you think about it, there’s no forgetting a character like Owen Meany. This one is sure to generate good discussion by the time we’re through.

Come back Wednesday August 27 for a discussion post led by Shawn Smucker. Join the Facebook group to share quotes and discuss the book throughout the month. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc.


What’s your favorite novel?

* Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

Leigh Kramer
Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee, followed by San Francisco, quit steady job as a social worker to chase her dreams of writing, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.
Leigh Kramer

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  1. Annette says:

    I read this a few years back. Looking forward to hearing other people’s thoughts as I read it on my own. I’m terrible at remembering plots, but I remember liking the book and aspects of Owen Meany’s character are strongly implanted in my memory. Does the book discussion take place here on the website or on Facebook?

  2. Trish Bjorklund says:

    I just got my copy in the mail yesterday and like a true book nerd was totally excited to see how many pages it is! I can’t wait to start reading it! One of my favorite books, or at least one that I’ve read probably 20 times is Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard!

  3. I read this book in high school and loved it. In a college English class we were going around sharing our favorite book and when I said Owen Meany, people laughed. My defensive questioning revealed that no one else had ever read the book and only knew about it through the movie Simon Birch – which of course is vastly different from the book. Anyway, from then on I was always a little hesitant to mention it as a favorite because people had thought I was so crazy. Glad to hear it’s your favorite – I need to go reread it!

  4. I started Owen Meaney about five years ago and never finished! I honestly don’t know why, because I remember really enjoying it. You make me want to pick it up again :).
    Favorite novel…maybe Jane Eyre? Or Persuasion?

  5. I’m totally looking forward to reading this one, just so I can know what your favourite novel is, Leigh. I loved Americanah so much, I am ready to leap with you. My favourite novel is … o, dear … I have a few. And I don’t tend to read books many times over. (Too many new ones to read!!!!) But, here are three “favourites”: A Bridge Across Forever, by Richard Bach. Just because it opened my mind so much and I loved his portrayal of soul mates. A Dry White Season. Because it wrecked me in the best way and cracked open a new political paradigm for me in South Africa. The Book of Negroes. I loved the strong protagonist and, of course, her story of slavery and finally freedom, wrecked me.

  6. layla bb solms says:

    i haven’t read “…Owen Meany” either; guess i’ve been living under a rock. i’ll be making a stop at the library to get it this week. 😉

  7. Sandy Hay says:

    I don’t know why I’ve never read this book before. Everyone who sees it on my kitchen counter says something like this, “Oh, A prayer for Owen of my favorite books.” I read chapter 1 yesterday and now I understand what they mean.

  8. I’m so glad you picked this one for the book club! It’s been on my radar, but with a stack of to-reads a mile high, somehow never made it on. I’m really enjoying it and can see why so many people have referenced it as a favorite. As for my own favorite – that’s tough…. One that I loved as a kid and want to reread with my daughter when she is older is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” I read it so many times, but it’s been years now since I’ve picked it up.

    • Glad you’re enjoying it, Annie! I know what you mean about the stack of To Reads- it can be difficult to prioritize when there are so many good books out there. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was growing up and really want to re-read it one of these days.

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