(Blurb for 11.22.63 by Stephen King from Amazon) WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11.22.63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless . . .
King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense.
11.22.63 is a real treat from Stephen King. The story centres around Jake Epping who’s a recently divorced High School English Teacher. Jake is a regular visitor to Al’s Diner and is friends with the owner Al Temperton. Al has discovered a time portal (or “Rabbit Hole”) in his Diner which takes him back to 9th September 1958 every time he enters it.
Jake checks out rabbit hole for himself and finds that everything Al has told him is true. When he returns to the present time, he finds that he has only been gone for 2 minutes. “Happens every time” says Al, however long you stay on the other side, you are only gone for 2 minutes. When Jake visits the diner the next day, he finds his friend looking a lot older and very sick. He learns that Al has made it his mission to prevent President Kennedy’s assassination, but contracted lung cancer and was unable to complete the task. Jake accepts his dying-friends request to complete his mission and here’s where our story really begins.
I really enjoyed Jakes journey into the past. His initial problems are how to make money in this past world, you can’t take 2011 dollars back to 1958, although Al had given him some to get him started. We then see Jake taking on a new identity, moving eventually on from Maine to the state of Texas. But not before dealing with other self-imposed tasks including one to help his present-day evening-class student.
In Texas Jake builds his life as a teacher, and King skilfully introduces a romantic interest to the story spanning a number of years. But Jakes mission has a finite date and king moves us onto the final stage of his ultimate task; to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from pulling the trigger.
22.11.63 is literally another epic from Stephen King spanning 740 pages. But to be fair it didn’t feel that long, I was engrossed all the way through this highly enjoyable book. Following Jakes life as he learned to live in a different time, fell in love and finally prepared for his mission was a perfect way to spend the weekend.