11.22.63 by Stephen King
Updated: Sep 4, 2019
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
Selected by Donna - June 2019
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.
(Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
Lots of information about the book and the author, including a link to an interview with Stephan King, and a large range of questions to prompt book club discussions.
THE DISCUSSION: (Contains spoilers)Overall the general consensus was that we really enjoyed reading this book. This is our third time-travel novel so although we are comfortable reading books of this genre our enjoyment came mainly from the content and the author. We all thought it was very well written, with a fascinating subject matter. It was oozing with so much historical detail, which obviously took an enormous amount of research, which we appreciated throughout the novel. The characters were realistic and drew you in. We loved the relationship between Sadie and George, the community of teachers and pupils in Jodie and of course Al. We were saddened by what happened to Sadie and for the choices Jake had to make. We felt the ending was perfect when Jake found 80 year old Sadie and danced with her one last time. The novel was very thought provoking especially when Jake went back to the present day to find all the changes that had occurred whilst he had been meddling in the past. A book to recommend and pass on to others.
REVIEW: (Contains spoilers)
Wow, 740 pages! I honestly didn't think I would finish this book but I did. It was a mixed bag for me; whilst I enjoyed the late 50s, early 60s of America and Jake/George's life with Sadie I grew tired of his mission to kill Osward. Considering the book is about JFK's assassination I felt that only the last section of the huge book covered that area which I found disappointing. Although I appreciate there was a lot of ground covered in his other missions (attempting to save Harry's family and Carolyn), and the waiting period leading up to JFK's assassin, I just felt it was too long winded and could have been significantly reduced. I did like the realistic features within the novel for example, for every change he made there was a consequence and a knock on affect to the future. And the way he would age when he came back to the present even though in present time it had only been 2 minutes. I am aware that this is now an eight-part drama series and I would be interested in watching it.
Probably one of the longest books I've ever read in the shortest of time...I loved it. I loved the links to what appears to be a better America than today, root beer, chocolate pies, pre-fast food diners, cheap prices, big cars and expensive oranges!! I loved the counter-history aspect, the impact of meddling with history in time travel. I loved the characters Jake, Sadie and George. I loved that Jake gave up his love so that she could live her life.
King started writing this book 30 years ago but due to the raw pain that still existed over the assassination he postponed the writing. Thank goodness he chose to finish the story which encompassed the whole American romance with the Kennedys and what could have been...
Let us know what you thought about this book. We would love to read your reviews and hear what you would score it.
If you enjoyed this book why not try:
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman