Review–11/22/63 by Stephen King



by Stephen King

Summary: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. 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.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy because Stephen King hardcovers hurt my wrists! lol

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If I’m being honest, I did not want to read 11/22/63 at first. I’m not a huge fan of politics or political history and I’m a bit too young to care that much about JFK or to be able to relate, sympathize, or really understand what an act like that did to the nation. Because I’m not a huge fan of the huge subject matter, I thought that this book would not be up my alley at all. However, friends and family have all raved about the book and recommended it to me multiple times. I found a good deal at one point for Kindle and snatched it up for under 5 bucks.

I really enjoyed 11/22/63 and it was a million times better than I thought it would be. I loved the Jake Epping of 2011 and how the story of Harry Dunning hit him in the gut and made him cry. I liked that he still went to the diner that people made fun of for being so cheap. I liked his small world. I liked the way the time travel opportunity presented itself because it was done in a typical Stephen King fashion. I enjoyed his trips into 1958 after Al revealed the location and how he was selling his burgers so cheap. He was getting the meat from the past!

My absolute favorite thing about the book was that it featured Derry, Maine, which is the town from the novel It. I’m a huge fan of It. It scared me so bad and one of the things that really did it for me was that eerie, something-is-wrong feeling that enveloped the town. A lot of people associate It with Pennywise the clown if they’ve never read the book, and while he’s a huge character, the novel isn’t titled Pennywise for a reason. It’s really about the creepiness, the fear, the not-quite-right-ness of the town and how it fed on the townspeople. So when Jake Epping, or George Amberson in 1958, drove into Derry and felt that same wrongness, I knew I was reading a book that wasn’t going to be dull.
Stephen King created a wonderful story that was complex and hard to put down. It has mystery, fantasy, horror, suspense, romance, drama, and action. I could feel that nostalgia of the times and I liked being able to feel like Mr. Amberson/Epping was really in the past and I could understand his reluctance to leave. Things were much simpler then. I was engrossed in the story of Stephen King’s Lee Harvey Oswald. From his overbearing mother to his spats with his Russian wife, I watched it all through George Amberson’s binoculars. I loved the town of Jodie, Texas, where Amberson/Epping tried to grow some roots. I loved the people, Sadie, and the feeling of the small town.

My only real issue was how quickly Jake Epping jumped into the rabbit hole to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. I don’t fault the story at all for having the plot, I just wish that he’d thought a little harder about the ripple effect. He saw the events that happened after his first trip after he took care of Harry Dunning’s father. He saw that his actions, while they fixed some things, Harry Dunning’s story didn’t have the ending he would have hoped for after altering one of the most horrific moments of the poor man’s life. I just would have thought that, as an English teacher, he’d know a little something about how life shapes us into who we are. How events that happen and how tragedies turn us into something different, make us make different choices, and all have consequences. Good comes from bad, just like bad comes from good. He touched on this a little bit, but he still went into 1958 and decided to take on Al’s task because supposedly killing JFK would fix a lot that was wrong with the present. That was such a naïve thing to think and Jake should have known better, but he spent more time trying to make sure that Oswald was acting alone and finding out if he would be truly guilty instead of thinking about whether it even mattered at all. The past didn’t want to be changed, but maybe Mr. Epping should have considered why that was.

But the story really made me think about those things, which was kind of awesome. I definitely recommend reading this one, even if you have some reservations about it, like I did. It’s a great book and it’s a well thought out story. 11/22/63 was an awesome book and I sped through it despite the fact that it was so large.


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