I was born 13 months after Kennedy was shot, and heard my parents and grandparents and their friends, and later teachers, speak of the horror of that day so often that I feel like I was there. Everyone knows where they were when they heard the news, and, in my mind and in the minds of millions of people, this was an iconic moment in history. It was a single event that shaped everything to come.
Stephen King has never been my favorite author. I'd stumbled across his books from time to time, but horror is my least favorite genre so I typically steered clear. Then I found 11/22/63, a book he published just about 2 years ago.
The book is told from the point of view of Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Maine, who is given an opportunity to go back to 1958 and change the world by saving President Kennedy. The theory is, of course, that saving Kennedy would prevent the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the world would be a better place. Jake takes the step back in time and spends 6 years in a bygone world - a world that King describes with so much detail and so much authenticity that I was transported, too. While in the past, Jake gets a job as an English teacher and meets fellow teacher Sadie Dunhill, with whom he falls in love. Their relationship is spectacular - no one could doubt the intensity of emotion between them and the genuine love that exists. And Sadie discovers what he's there to do.
I won't spoil the end for you, but I will tell you that I was in tears for 45 minutes after reading the ending. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk, and I was overcome by an urge to re-read the book again from the beginning just to enjoy the spectacular story again. Even now, months after I read it, I'm choked up thinking about the story.
If I gave stars, this one would get a million.
If you haven't read it, run out and get it and then clear your calendar for a week or two (it's a long book) so that you can savor every moment of it. If you have read it, read it again. I'm going to.