Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out.
President John F. Kennedy is dead.
Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away . . . but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke. . . . Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten . . . and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.Audiobook, Audible UnabridgedPublished November 8th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published January 1st 2011)
Five Huge Stars! A not to be missed book! A masterpiece! King at his finest!
Jake Epping isn't a crying man, but perhaps that will change. Jake leads a rather ordinary life, he is a high school English teacher, recently divorced and relatively content. His whole world is turned upside down when a friend, Al Templeton, calls him with a bizarre confession and request. Al is dying of cancer, even though that seems impossible since Jake saw him just last night at his diner. However, Al is dying because he has spent the last four years living in the past. Al discovered a "rabbit hole" as he calls it in the pantry of his diner. One can pop through this little hole and be transported back to September 1959, and when one returns, only two minutes have elapsed. With each trip back, time resets and everything returns to how it was. Al has one last request for Jake since he can't do it himself. Could Jake go back and spend the next five years living in the past in order to stop Oswald from murdering President Kennedy? If Kennedy doesn't die, think of the benefits. A better future, right? Or does tampering with the past have dire consequences? Can Jake change the past?
What I Loved:
- I have said this before but it bears repeating. I am a huge fan of Mr. King. I have been a 'Constant Reader' since 1989. I have read almost everything the man has written, and I think he is absolutely brilliant. That being said, this is without a doubt hands down, his best novel to date. While I loved Doctor Sleep, this one is even better. For all of you have yet to read Mr. King, this is the book to read. Fear not, this is not typical King. It isn't a horror book, nor is it dark or scary. This is a book about time travel and the consequences of changing the past, but above all, it is story of an ordinary man and the wonderful friends he makes on his journey. I am suffering a serious book hangover after completing this, and I want nothing more than to sit down and start the journey all over again. If you have not read a King book, do yourself a favor and read this one! It is amazing! Loved it!
- I absolutely loved the characters in this one. Mr. King is a master a creating characters and character driven stories, and this book is no exception. Jake Epping comes across as a seemingly ordinary, middle aged teacher who has done nothing extraordinary in his life. That is about to change when he is given a choice. Will he go back in time and save Kennedy? At first, I wondered why King decided to plant Jake back in 1959 a full five years before the assassination, but as the story unwound, I understood. He did it so that we could spend time with Jake, get to know him and care about him. Jake's journey is epic story telling. So much happens during that five year time period, and I was never bored. Mr. King spins one hell of a story. Not only did I become a die hard fan of Jake, but I also fell hard for Sadie, Deke, Miss Ellie and the rest of the characters in the past, I even had a soft spot for Marina Oswald. I almost cried when Jake arrived in Derry, Maine in 1959, a town that turned a blind eye and didn't see all that was wrong within its borders. There he encountered Ritchie and Beverly. Long time King fans will immediately recognize this beloved pair from his masterpiece It. I was ecstatic to see that he managed to tie in one of my all time favorite books into this tale. Even though at first, I was anxious to get to Kennedy and the excitement, I was glad that King took his sweet time telling Jake's story. Finishing the book, I was devastated to say goodbye to my friends, because they were old friends after this journey.
- The romance is absolutely perfect. It is slow, beautiful and built on friendship. It has its struggles, but I was so relieved to see the couple get over their hurdles and work things out. I loved how Sadie learned to accept Jake, all of him. I admired how they took care of each other and looked out for one another until the end. While the ending was bitter sweet, and it made me cry, it was perfect.
- I loved spending time back in the span of 1959-1963. Mr. King does an astounding job of bringing the past alive complete with the smells and I felt like I, too, had stepped through that rabbit hole with Jake. I was fascinated to explore this 'land of ago' right along with Jake. This was the era when my parents were teenagers, and I loved seeing how things were back in their day. Mr. King gave me a perfect review mirror to the past, and I was astounded at how much the world has changed from the views on women, marriage, politics and more. If you ever wanted to take a trip back in time to when America was still innocent, this novel will take you there. Mr. King also did plenty of research to bring us a historically accurate tale, and I liked learning more about Oswald. This was not only an entertaining read, but an educational read for me as well. I still am astounded at how different the world was for my parents and grandparents.
- The whole time traveling aspect was well done, and it made my head spin at the same time. Mr. King presents his ideas of the butterfly effect and how the world would be if time was altered. It blew my mind, and left me with the strong feeling that perhaps things do happen for a reason, and time is best left alone. I liked that he kept the time travel simple and a bit of a mystery. There is no heavy sci-fi or esoteric reasoning for the trip back, it just is, go with it.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Craig Wasson. To be quite honest, I was a bit disappointed at first, when I realized this wasn't read by Will Patton who does an amazing job with the narration of Doctor Sleep, (another absolute must read/listen in my opinion) but I soon settled in with Craig and ended up absolutely loving his work. He does an outstanding job with this masterpiece, and I will definitely listen to more of his work in the future. If you get the chance to listen to this, do it. It comes in just under thirty one hours, an epic audiobook, but it is so worth the journey!
- Finally, I cannot recommend this book enough. It made me feel, I laughed, I cried and I loved every step of the way. This book is a snapshot of American history, and an experience that I won't forget. It absolutely took my breath away, and I will definitely be reading this again, a few times. This book has earned a well deserved spot on my absolute all time favorite book shelf. It is a masterpiece, and I know that it will live as one of King's best works. READ THIS!
And The Not So Much:
- Who am I to quibble about this book? I do have just a couple of niggles. While I was able to wrap my head around the whole time travel paradox, I was still confused by the fact that even though each trip was a reset, it didn't reset the time for the person wandering back in time. Everything that happens in the past to Jake remains a part of his memory and he continues to age despite the fact that he is only gone for two minutes in the present. I still can't quite wrap my head around this, unless it is because he is just a visitor, drifting in time like a ghost. Just accept it at face value and go with it.
- I was left wanting to know more about the green and yellow card men. How did they get their job? Why? What happened to the green card man after Jake returned?
- I was a bit sad that I didn't get a glimpse as to what happened with some of my other favorite characters: Deke, Miss Ellie, Mike and Bobbie Jo. I would love to have seen what happened to them.
- The ending broke my heart, and yet it was perfect.... I wanted it to go on and on, I never wanted the story to end, but all good things must come to an end.
11-22-63 was an astounding and amazing read. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful this book is. I was lost in the story and remiss to come up for air. This is a character driven masterpiece that will transport you back in time to a simpler era, before America lost her innocence. This book was an emotional roller coaster, and I loved every minute of it. For those of you who have been hesitant to read King because you are afraid of the things he tells you might haunt you in the night, I assure you, this is one book you can pick up and read and not worry about turning out the lights at night. It isn't scary, it is a tale of the past with a breathtaking romance. I urge you to check out the master, and see why he is one of the best story tellers of our era. I loved this book and I cannot wait to read it all over again!
I purchased and audio copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.