The Secret Garden Read-A-Long May 1 – May 31

Recently in a post I mentioned that I was going to read The Secret Garden for the first time.  The comments that followed, shocked me…. there are a lot of you out there that have not read this book!  Suddenly I felt I was not alone on my little island of “Those Who Have Not Read The Secret Garden”…

and an idea was born.

Won’t you come and read with me?

If you are interested in doing this read a long with me it is open to those who have not read it before, and to those who feel they may be due for a re-read.

Then… on May 31st here, we are going to have a garden party! You will have a chance to link your reviews and there will be an online book discussion here, as well as giveaways…. all garden themed!

Want in?

Please grab the button above and either 1) write a post with the “woo hoo” I am going to do this read a long!  or 20 add this button to your sidebar or 3) both!

Please fill out this form if you are planning on participating:

Please link up below if you write a post regarding your participation.  I am excited to do this with you!  😀

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A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving

Johnny Wheelwright lives in New Hampshire with his mom who “chose to have me and to never explain a word about me or to her mother or to her sister”.  Johnny never knew who his dad was, and his mother seemed to like it that way and went about with her tranquil and modest nature the rest of her days.

Johnny was rather scrawny and wimpy so it was only natural for him to find a friend in Owen Meany.  Owen was small for his age – freakishly small due to a mysterious growth disorder.  he also has damage to his larynx which leaves his voice very squeaky and needless to say, the blunt of many jokes.  But – Owen is wise beyond his years and knows more about life at the age of ten than most people do well into their later adult years.

When a tragic accident happens at a baseball game involving Owen… Owen feels this was foreseen by God, therefore – Owen is an instrument of God.  The book goes on to play on this “instrument of God” piece (even to the point that Owen predicts his date of death) throughout the childhood of both boys – and into adulthood as well as Johnny continues the story.




A little history.  Last year this book was recommended to me for banned book week.  AND in typical Sheila style, I ran to my library and checked this out along with several other banned books.  AND in typical Sheila style… I had more books than I could read. It was returned… unread.

There are books out there that continue to call to me, for whatever reason they stay on my radar as “must reads” and this book was one of them. I checked the book out again this year, now not only for Banned Book Week, but I had also chosen it as the Wordshaker fall opener read to force my hand.  (I sometimes, have to trick – myself.)

I had seen the movie Simon Birch long before I knew of a book called A Prayer For Owen Meany.  I enjoyed the movie, finding it funny, and sad, and a mixture in between.  The book left me feeling much of the same emotions. 

In the early pages you are hit with the shocking plot starter that really kicks off the story.  Owen then takes on this role as instrument of God which at times is funny, but admittedly – at times, a bit disturbing as well.  For me, reading this book as the fictional story it is, made it enjoyable, and in the end, although not always the easiest book to follow (flash back and forwards tend to mess me up), I am thankful I had the opportunity to read it.  

John Irving and I have had a rocky relationship.  He has a knack for creating quirky characters and then writing stories around them.  In the early years of our book club we had read (under my suggestion) The Fourth Hand by him.  Lets just say that I never have really ever lived down the choosing of this book that as a group we all disliked very VERY much.

John Irving, in my eyes, redeems himself in this interesting and profound read that would make an incredible book group discussion read.



FYI:  Did you know the movie Simon Birch is based loosely on this book?

Simon Birch is a 1998 American comedy-drama film loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It was directed and written for the screen by Mark Steven Johnson. The film stars Ian Michael Smith, Joseph Mazzello, Ashley Judd, Oliver Platt, and Jim Carrey. It omitted much of the latter half of the novel and altered the ending. The movie does not share the book’s title at Irving’s request; he did not believe that this novel could successfully be made into a film. The name “Simon Birch” was suggested by him to replace that of Owen Meany. The main plot centers around 12-year old Joe Wenteworth and his best friend Simon Birch.


Why Was A Prayer For Owen Meany a Banned Book?

Banned and censored around the United States for its stance on religion and criticism of the US government regarding  the Vietnam War and Iran-Contra.



For those of you who joined me for the Wordshakers read a long of this book – as you are posting your reviews this week, please respond to one or two of these questions within your reviews.  When your review is up, please link here.

1.  What do you think of Johnny as the narrator of this read?  What is his motivation for writing this story?

2.  How does Owen develop as a character throughout the novel? 

3.  Why do you feel so such emphasis is put on Owen’s voice?

4.  Reverend Merrill always speaks of faith in tandem with doubt. Do you believe that one can exist without the other or that one strengthens the other?

5.  Owen Meany taught John that “Any good book is always in motion–from the general to the specific, from the particular to the whole and back again.” Do you think Irving followed his own recipe for a good book?

6.  Several reviews call A Prayer for Owen Meany “Dickensian,” and Irving himself incorporates scenes from Dickens in the story. In what ways does Irving’s writing remind you of Dickens? What other writers would you compare Irving to?

I will be answering my thoughts on these questions through commenting on your reviews.  Be sure to use the Wordshaker widget to connect your review as part of the Wordshaker Read-A-Long.

Link your Word Shaker read-a-long review here: (linky open through October 8)

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I borrowed this book from our local library

Finally – The Wordshakers Read – A – Long

It has been a long time since we have had a read-a-long here.  Mainly, 2011 has been extremely busy and I was swept along with it.  But not only that…. Word Shakers needed some revamping that I just had not taken the time to really think about how I wanted to move forward.

Thanks to the occasional comments and emails inquiring about Word Shakers, I have finally put together what I envision this read-a-long to be like and now am finally (FINALLY) ready to unveil what I have in store.

First things first… why is it called Word Shakers?

Word Shakers came to my attention when I read The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.  I loved the book… but what caught my heart most was the story within the story called Word Shakers…

THE BEST word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words.  They were the ones who could climb the highest .  One such word shaker was a small, skinny girl.  She was renowned as the best word shaker of her region because she knew how powerless a person could be without words.

If you have read this book you know that the story goes on with the girl climbing the tree of words and shaking them down so all could reach them and use them.  I love the analogy, and seriously… if I had read this book before I had started blogging, this blog would be called Word Shakers.

Word Shakers is open to anyone who would care to join in on the read-a-long.  The more the merrier!  To participate:

1.  Fill out the form below so I know you are planning to read with us. 

2.  Read the book or listen to the audio during the time frame that is announced

3.  A few days prior to the review time I will send out a list of five questions to ponder.  You may cover one or more to discuss in your post.

4.  Grab the word shaker widget (above) and feel free to use it on your sidebars and/or on your review posts.

5.  Be sure to comment on my post here and let me know that your Word Shaker post is up as well so I may link to it.  

6.  If you do not have a blog but wish to participate, still fill out the form below and at the time of my posting add your thoughts here in the comments. 

Ok.. now for the book….

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 and terrifying.

Why this book?

For one I have never read this and have always wanted to.  This book is the story behind the movie Simon Birch which I enjoyed watching.  Secondly, this is a Banned Book and Banned Book week is coming up at the end of this month so I thought the timing was…. appropriate.

I invite you, and would love you, to join my on this read. 

If interested – please fill out the form below.  Live review date would be the first week of October, I am aiming for October first for my review as that is the final day of Banned Books Week.