In 2011 Jake Epping is just your average high school English and GED teacher is Stephen King’s 11/22/63. His life is changed the day he reads an essay from Harry Dunning, an older student, who tells the story of the day his father came home and murdered his entire family and then left Harry with a permanent limp.
Several days later his friend Al, who runs Al’s diner, calls him to tell him an unbelieveable secret. Inside his storage room is a portal to 1958. Jake thinks Al is joking until he goes through the “rabbit hole” and finds himself back in 1958. Returning back to 2011 he finds that Al has told him about the portal for a single reason; he wants Jake to go back and save the life of President John F. Kennedy.
After debating, Jake decides to go through the rabbit hole and live new his life in 1958 as George Amberson. He has two priorities as he goes back to the Land of Ago; stop Harry Dunning’s dad from murdering his family and stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing Kennedy. The only problem is the past is obdurate and it doesn’t want to be changed.
The years between 1958 when Jake “George” Epping first goes into the past until 1963 when he must stop Oswald are described in detail. His journey from Maine to Florida and finally to Texas are peppered with harmonies of where he’s been and where he’s going. The side story of his journey, which turns out to be a main plot, is his meeting of Sadie, the new school librarian. He and Sadie quickly fall in love but their relationship is far from blissful.
The story is historically accurate and I learned a lot about both Kennedy and Oswald. It was also a fantastic look into what life was like in the late 50′s and early 60′s. The world was a different place and Jake only hopes that by preventing Kennedy’s assassination to make it a better place as well.
This book was unlike any other Stephen King book I’ve read. The first few chapters build the case for going back into the past and once Jake gets there I was hooked. The story of his life in the Land of Ago made me smile, it made me cry, and it left me on the edge of my seat wanting more. The book is so descriptive that I felt like I was there in 1958 with him.
The last few chapters leading up to the ending were a total surprise for me. I’m not sure anyone could predict what happens. While this is a long book, I couldn’t get through it fast enough. I devoured every page and it left me thinking every time I put the book down.
The book leaves you with the final question; what would you do if you could change the future? Would you make yourself happy or would you save the world?
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.