“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why. Not until the future eats the present, anyway. We know when it’s too late.”
Sometimes, it takes me months to get through a book as long as this one. Other times, though, I read the entire length of the book in one day and then feel a massive migraine beginning to develop just from reading so much.
Today was one of the latter days. I simply could not stop.
11/22/63 is a massive tome that chronicles what happens to English teacher Jake Epping as he travels back in time to a fixed point 53 years in the past, via a “rabbit hole” in his friend’s worn-down diner that is connected to one September day in 1958. His friend is dying of cancer and cannot make it through the five years in the past that would allow him to prevent Kennedy’s assassination, so Jake takes on the mission. However, in the beginning, for Jake, he is not as focused on stopping the assassination, but is extremely motivated to figure out a way to prevent a horrific family tragedy in the life of one of his adult GED students from ever happening. The story that follows once Jake makes his trip down the rabbit hole is like a mix of ’50s and ’60s historical fiction, some gruesome moments (but nothing like King’s typical work), a political thriller, and a decent amount of romance thrown in for good measure. Somehow, this works well and it’s like no other book I have ever read, and especially not like any other Stephen King book (though, the references to several of his other novels did not go unnoticed).
I gave this book 4 stars. I enjoyed the story and the writing but I was expecting just a little more out of this book, based on enthusiastic recommendations from friends, many Goodreads reviewers, and my mom, whose opinion is obviously the most important in this case. I think that some of the earlier exposition could have been eliminated before the bigger events. Besides that, though, this was an interesting, entertaining read, which I think would appeal to a wide variety of readers who generally would not consider venturing into King’s work. If you are like me and sometimes think that you were “born in the wrong generation,” this book might definitely make you think twice about that!