My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve been avoiding Stephen King for years now. I don’t like horror, I would say. I’m sure he’s a fine writer, I would say. Really, mostly, I never game him a thought except to note that all the movies made of his books sounded scary.
But last year a colleague suggested 11/22/63 as a book group read, and we put it on the schedule, so I downloaded the 853 page book (heavy!) to my Kindle and off I went.
The premise is that a high school teacher in a real Maine town, Lisbon Falls, is pulled aside by the local diner owner and exposed to a “rabbit hole” that takes him back in time, to a particular moment in 1958. The diner owner is dying, and he urges the teacher to take on the mission he himself was unable to complete: to go back in time and prevent the assassination of President Kennedy.
As a longtime sci-fi fan, I actually love time travel/alternate timeline stories, and while I still may not read his scarier books, I loved this novel. The portrayal of the late 1950s and early 1960s felt, to use a word King has his central character use to describe 1958 root beer, “Full.” I absolutely recommend the book for its plot, its use of all time travel conundrums, exploration of the butterfly effect (which fascinates me), and the vivid characters about whom I came to care. I understand that King often drops in references to his other works, and since this story is partly set in Derry, Maine, that happens here. (I had to look it up on Wikipedia to know; for those who like “It,” the hero of this story arrives on the scene shortly after the 1950s events in that book.)
I gave a copy of the book to #1 Son last Christmas; if he hasn’t read it, I hope he will now!