If you're over the age of 5 years old, you probably remember where you were when you heard of JFK's assasination on 11/22/63. I was in Mrs. Andrews 4th grade class at Long Elementary School. We all were herded into the library where the "lone" TV was turned to CBS and Walter Cronkite addressed the nation. It was a Friday and I remember when I got home, it was all we watched all weekend as my grandmother cried and the nation was stunned at what had happened.
Recently, I finished Stephen King's latest novel "11/22/63" and I'm now debating whether this one has surpassed "DUMA KEY" as my all time favorite King Novel.
The premise of time travel has always enticed me as does the "What if" scenario. The book is complex as King weaves a tale that at it's heart is a great love story. This is more like "Shawshank Redemption" or "Hearts in Atlantis" than it is "IT", but in a nod to his previous work, King gives homage to the characters from "IT" as his main charcter actually interacts with Beverly Marsh and Ritchie while in Dairy, Maine. They even discuss the horrible killings by the "Clown", but King doesn't spend much time here, he's got another great story he's telling.
The year is 2011 at the start and a teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, Jake Epping is approached by his friend Al from "Al's Diner". Al looks thinner than yesterday, and maybe a bit more gray? How can this be? Then Al shows him a startling discovery. If you walk into the pantry at the back of the diner.....ignore the wall and keep walking....you're all of a sudden in Lisbon Falls, but on September the 8th, 1958! No matter how long you stay in 1958, when you return, only 2 minutes have passed in 2011. That's why Al is gray and weighs less. He went last night and stayed 4 years, but came back because he's got cancer and can't complete what he set out to do. He wants Jake to go back in his place and prevent the JFK assasination. Al feels that was the turning point for the country and better things would have ocurred with JFK alive. He has a notebook full of notes on Oswald's movements in the years and months leading up to the shooting and all Jake has to do is go through "the rabbit hole" and change history for the better!
Jake goes through for a test run as he wonders if Al is crazy and turns out he's not. Jake seems more at home in 1958 than 2011 so he decides that Al may be right, the trip and mission might be important enough to try. Jake's single with no family and no real ties. Al's even got cash, in 1958 bills, a new identity for Jake and his road map to change the past.
Al passes in a few days so Jake decides to do it and his 5 year mission begins. But the past doesn't want to be changed, so it fights him at every turn. The book is long, but I was riveted and there are no monsters here other than "the past" and our regrets at what we have done and should have done and of course along the way, Jake meets his soul mate, Sadie Dunhill who ends up helping him on his adventure. He breaks down and tells her who and what he is after certain incidents cause her believe he "knows" too many things.
Loaded with subplots that will never make it to the movie version, I certainly hope there is a movie as I can see it on the screen right now and can't wait to lay down my $10 and check it out. It's a fantasy about reality and that alone makes it magical. Haven't we all dreamed about going back in time to right a wrong, make a different decision or see what WE were really like back then. You will be captivated if you read "11/22/63". Happy reading! Comments Welcome as always.