Book Review: The World According to Garp by John Irving

I wanted to love this book as much as I did A Prayer for Owen Meany. And at first, I did. Jenny, a nurse and some might call her a feminist, not her though, was a compelling character with a strong voice and convictions. Her life was bizarre and clear, and I had fun following her. But then T. S. Garp, her son, and a writer, took over the book. Regrettably, I found his voice lacking and mundane. I didn’t care about him trying to find his place in the world or him coming to peace about his eccentric, powerful mother. I promise I tried to care about T.S. Garp. We just don’t speak the same language, I guess.

Now you might argue that you don’t always have to care. That there are other merits to this book. You are right there. But (oh the infamous but) when the story strongly follows the character’s voice, life, struggles… then you have to form some sort of connection even despising (as his mother’s followers did towards him) would be better than merely thinking irrelevant. Also, yes, I realize he was a tool, who through the writer, could write about feminism. T.S. Garp was a good looking-glass to ponder about all the issues, importance, and even absurdities involving feminist movements. Still, I didn’t care. There were individual scenes that made me feel the pain written there or smile to a thought, but they were rare to come by.

All this doesn’t mean this isn’t a good book. Not at all. It just that we are not at the same wavelength. Neither of us are better or worse than the other. Only different. Books for me are about what we need, search, hunger for in that moment; what touches us, shapes us, makes our heart to beat, our brains to scream from pleasure. Such things are very subjective experiences and tied to time and space in our lives.

Thank you for reading! Have a lovely day!

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