December 19, 2012

11/22/63 by Stephen King | Book Review



Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Publication Date: November 8th 2011
Publisher: Scribner
ISBN: 1451627289
ISBN13: 9781451627282
Rating: 

If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be worth it?

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who teaches adults for extra money. One student submits a gruesome, harrowing first-person essay about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane — and insanely possible — mission to try to prevent the 11/22/1963 J.F. Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

Explore the Possibilities..


I have been eyeing this for a long time but every time I pick it, I'm discouraged because of its length. Then this month, I just got tired of reading young adult novels and I thought I want to read something valuable - something interesting and informative so in a spur of the moment, I picked this book and reading the first sentence already got me hooked. It was certainly not an easy read because it was agonizingly long and the longest book I've read so far was The Witness by Nora Roberts. I think I deserve an award for sticking with this book. If you're a reader of my blog, you'd certainly know that I read more of contemporary, young adults, chick lits, and romance books and I got out of my comfort zone to read this because the genre of this book is certainly not my cup of tea. 

This book particularly caught my attention because it has something to do with JFK's assassination. I may not be an American and I was not yet born during this world changing event, but I am a fan of JFK. If there are two American presidents that fascinate me, I'd say they're Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. I'm a fan of these two. I have already read the autobiographies of their wives: Jacquelyn and Hillary. Sometimes, I'd search the internet for particular topics or articles involving them just to update myself.

11/22/63. You probably already know which part of Kennedy's life this book talked about. Obviously, as the title says, this book focuses on what happened to Kennedy on November 11, 1963. Let me brief you about what really happened in that day. Pardon me if the information is not as accurate but this research was based upon the articles I've read lately while perusing the internet trying to fit the pieces of information together.

President Kennedy's motorcade route through Dallas was planned to give him maximum exposure to Dallas crowds before his arrival, along with Vice-President Lyndon Johnson and Texas Governor John Connally, at a luncheon with civic and business leaders in that city. Kennedy was together with his wife Jacqueline riding a top down car while having a presidential motorcade Dealey Plaza. From Houston Street, the presidential limousine made the planned left turn to put it on Elm Street to allow it to pass to the Stemmons Freeway exit. As it turned on Elm, the motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository. As it continued down Elm Street, shots were fired at President Kennedy; a clear majority of witnesses recalled hearing three shots. 




Jackie Kennedy jumps on the trunk of the car to retrieve part of her husband's skull.
It turned out that the assassin was positioned at the 6th floor of Book Depository hidden behind the boxes at the window aiming his Mannlicher-Carcano rifle at the President. 



Lee Harvey Oswald, reported missing to the Dallas police by Roy Truly, his supervisor at the Depository, was arrested approximately 70 minutes after the assassination for the murder of a Dallas police officer, J. D. Tippit. 



According to one of the arresting officers, M.N. McDonald, Oswald resisted arrest and was attempting to draw his pistol when he was struck and forcibly restrained by the police. He was charged with the murders of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit later that night. Oswald denied shooting anyone and claimed he was a patsy who was arrested because he had lived in the Soviet Union. Oswald's case never came to trial because two days later, while being escorted to a car for transfer from Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail, he was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby, live on American television. Arrested immediately after the shooting, Ruby later said that he had been distraught over the Kennedy assassination and that Oswald's death would spare "…Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial."


Source: Text - Wikipedia; Pictures: Tumblr.com

Many believed that the world was robbed of the opportunity to be lead by who they considered as of the most brilliant presidents America has ever made. Part of me wonders what would have happened if JFK lived. Would there have been terrorist attacks or would there have been a harmony among the most powerful leaders of the world? Would we have achieved world peace by now? I don't know. No one could ever answer that because it will always remain as a what-if situation and we were forever deprived to learn what would have happened next.

The Book. What would you do if you found a rabbit hole that will bring you back to the past? Would you take this chance to rewrite an event of the past? This is what exactly happened to Jake Epping. His dying friend, Al Templeton, had found out a hole that will bring you back to September 9, 1958. Every time you went in and out of it, all the things you did will be reset but it will always bring you back to the same date and time. Even if you stayed there for years, once you go back to the present, all those years will only be equivalent to 2 minutes. When Al's cancer worsened, he returned and asked Jake to do his wish, to save JFK from the assassination. Jake was hesitant at first but accepted the task nonetheless. While accomplishing the task, Jake assumed the identity of George Amberson. Living in the sixties, he began to appreciate the simple things in life. He loved the serenity, the neighbors who seem to know each other and how cheap living before was. He didn't miss his laptop or even his cellphone. He learned to live and appreciate life. Best of all, he learned how to love again. What he didn't realize is that being a change agent can cause a greater damage to the humanity. Will he succeed in stopping Lee Oswald? Will he regret his actions if he saw how it affected the future?

The Setting. Somehow, the idea of a time traveling where you always end up on the same date reminds me of the movie, The Source Code but the similarity ends there. What I love about this book is that I felt like I also time travelled. I can almost visualize how the places he went looked like. Stephen King has the ability to entice the creative imagination of his readers. I can pretty much visualize the Derry town he eloquently described. It's like I imagine myself walking through the ghost town with George Amberson. King deserves applause for this book. It was very detailed. He must have done one hell of a massive research for this one. Although, I'm not from Dallas, I believed he described the place thoroughly. Considering that the event took place over 48 years ago, I cannot quite express my feelings about how he vividly recollected an event from the past. The difficulty he must have gone through to write a book about a historical event that might have caused a butterfly effect. This author is really one of a kind.

I enjoyed the dances Stephen King included in this book. It would be awesome to dance to an old sixties music. I might try to learn it one of these days. :)


"Sometimes it's just easier to go along." 
"You know how it's going to end, but instead of spoiling things, that somehow increases your fascination. It's like watching a kid run his electric train faster and faster and waiting for it to derail on one of the curves."
"Being ninety-five percent sure isn't a hundred."
"When all else fail, give up and go to the library."
"Don't look back, never look back. How often do people tell themselves that after an experience that is exceptionally good (or exceptionally bad?)? Often, I suppose. And the advice usually goes unheeded. Humans were built to look back; that's why we have tat swivel joint in our necks."
"Sometimes life coughs up coincidences no writer of fiction would dare copy."
"Even capable of living in the past don't really know what the future holds."
"Life's simplest answers are often the easiest to overlook."
"Want to know the best thing about teaching? Seeing that moment when a kid discovers his or her gift. There's no feeling on earth like it."
"Life turns on a dime. Sometimes toward us, but more often it spins away, flirting and flashing as it goes: so long honey, it was good while it lasted, wasn't it?"
"Sometimes a man and a woman reach a crossroads and linger there, reluctant to take either way, knowing the wrong choice will mean end…and knowing there's so much worth saving."
"People can break promises, and people can snap."
"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."
"Women are better at keeping secrets, but men are more comfortable with them."
"Sometimes the things presented to us as choices aren't choices at all."
"Things do happen for a reason, but do we like the reason? Rarely." 
"Love is uniquely portable magic."
"The multiple choices and possibilities of daily life are the music we dance to. They are like strings on a guitar. Strum them and you create a pleasing sound. A harmonic. But then start adding strings. Ten strings, a hundred strings, a thousand, a million. Because they multiply!"

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