November 22, 1963. A date that is well know in the history books. The day that President Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.
But what if there was a way that this moment could be changed? What if there was a way that you could go back in time and have a do-over of that day or that time… and by placing yourself in the right place at the right time… you could change it all…
That is what happens to thirty-five year old Jake Epping. Jake is a High School English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine by day, and frequents a local diner at night owned by his friend Al. One night Al, shares a secret with Jake, there is a porthole in his storage room that takes you back to 1958. Skeptical (who wouldn’t be?), Jake decides to humor his friend and goes into the storage room…
and comes out in 1958.
Astounded. Excited. Jake returns to present time and the diner where Al fills him in on how he discovered the porthole, and what he had done in the past. Al, who is sick and knows his time is short wants to pass the ultimate mission to Jake… to go back in time and stop President Kennedy from being killed.
Jake agrees and begins the adventure of a lifetime, going back to 1958 under the name of George Amberson and living within the vicinity of Lee Harvey Oswald from 1958 to 1963. Jake (AKA George) takes a teaching job, enjoys the peacefulness of a laid back pre-internet society, and the 1958 prices, buying his time until the day would come to save Kennedy.
What he did not count on was meeting the lovely Sadie Dunhill… or the fact that the past does not want to change and will fight to make sure it does not.
I was not a girl who enjoyed History back in school. For me it hit right up there with math class. BLAH. Boring. Yet years later I find I like to know more and more about the past… and when I discovered Historical Fiction, I found a happy Sheila… a mix of two things I found I enjoyed.
Now when you read this book title and then the synopsis you may be scratching your head. Stephen King? Where is the murderous gore? A pet Cemetery? Possessed car? A spooky clown? (well, actually the clown is mentioned in this book in a brilliant way….)
But no. No gore. No horror. A new more user-friendly version of King that I feel will reap new readers.
In its place, is a fascinating story of “what if”. Mixed facts (the place, the Oswald’s, Kennedy) with fiction. The result? Brilliance.
I listened to this on audio…. yes 30+ hours long and probably the longest audio I have ever listened to. Narrator Craig Wasson nailed it. I loved it from the start. There was no warm up session here… from the very beginning I was sold. Great narration and great writing can do that.
Interestingly enough, King had first thought about this book in 1972, 9 years after the assassination, and right before the release of his first novel, Carrie. He decided to put that thought on the back burner as it would require too much research while he was teaching full-time. Initially King thought it would be titles Split Track.
11-22-63 is such a powerful book. Stephen King did an amazing job smoothly traveling back and forth between 2011 and 1958, switching between cell phones and twenty-five cent burgers. The walk back in time was real enough for me to feel that I was walking along those streets of 1958 – 1963, scoping out a very real and very dangerous Lee Harvey Oswald. Even listening to the climax of this book made the hairs on my neck stand on end…. perhaps, it felt a little to real to the actual event?
At the end of the audio, do not miss out of Stephen Kings own words about the book, the research and his recommendation of books to read to learn more about the assassination. A couple of the titles I managed to write down:
For me I can not stress enough that you must take time to read or listen to this book. Audio lovers, you are in for a treat – Craig Wasson was fantastic… and that even does not seem like a strong enough word. I loved listening to this and I will miss it now that it is over. Easily the best audio I have listened to this year.
Visit me in the Spoiler chat room to talk about this book in spoiler detail and to see a list of the awesome book references hiding within the pages of 11-22-63:
I downloaded this audiobook from audible.com