I have wanted to read 11/22/63 ever since the book debuted in 2011. A story about a man traveling back in time to try to stop the JFK assassination, AND it’s written by Stephen King? It sounded like a winning combination to me. I have been an on-and-off King fan since junior high, when I hungrily tore through chillers like Christine, The Shining, and It alongside my Sweet Valley High collection. For a while, I thought I would like to become the next Stephen King. My junior high/early high school writing borders on the macabre.
But there’s a softer side to King, apparent in stories like The Body (which became the movie Stand by Me) and it shines here in 11/22/63. Because this story, in its 800+ pages, is about so much more than the assassination. There’s a great love story in these pages, of course told in only the way King could tell it. There’s roadblocks and obstacles for protagonist Jake to overcome as he forges toward altering the past. “The past is obdurate,” Jake repeats many, many times. As this word was not in my vocabulary, I learned that “obdurate” means “unwilling to change.” Indeed, the past tries to swallow Jake up in his quest to get to 11/22/63.
Is the past worth changing? Or will it so greatly alter the future that it’s best to leave it alone without meddling? That is the larger question at hand in this book. The sacrifices that must be made in order to stop a huge historical event might not be ultimately worth the price.
This book would appeal to so many people for so many different reasons. Anyone with a remote interest in the JFK assassination may enjoy the fictionalization of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the way Jake is able to observe Oswald’s home life. For those interested in this period in American history, King also paints a very vivid picture of life in the late 50s/early 60s, along with people’s attitudes and beliefs back then. Extensive research must have gone into writing this book, not only about Kennedy, but about clothing, cars, the medical care available in the day, and more. It is surely one of King’s masterpieces.
I chose to read this for the TBR pile challenge but I was planning on reading it no matter what. It may be one that I read again in a few years.