When I think of John Irving, I think mostly of A Prayer for Owen Meany and The World According to Garp. This book had many similar elements to both of those books. I was afraid at first that perhaps Irving was merely recycling bits and pieces of these two stories to make a new novel and almost stopped reading. Then I thought about how much I loved both Garp and Owen, and how horrible would it be to read something else similar to them? So I kept reading. I'm glad that I did. The story was a moving one, but lacked the depth or twists in both Owen and Garp. However, is it fair to compare? Is it fair to expect every one of Irving's new novels to be as incredible as those other two? I don't think so. If I didn't know this was an Irving novel when I was reading it, I would have loved it. (*I also probably would have been disgusted by the author trying to imitate Irving, because it is clearly his writing*).Overall an enjoyable read, but I wish he had fleshed out the middle a bit more, and the ending was not superb. It had the too tidy feel of an author who has decided he's done writing so just does a little "and this is what happened to everyone" chapter.