Author: Stephen King
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Setting: Maine and Texas
Date Completed: 12/15/2011
I was so anxious to read this book, and I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed. A hefty tome involving time-travel, this book was my daily lunch companion for over (2.5) weeks. It's Stephen King at his finest: the subject was extremely well researched, and not the horror fest of King's earliest days as an author.
The protagonist is Jake Epping, a 35-year old, divorced, English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. He supplements his teacher's income by also teaching GED students. One of his assignments to the class is to write an essay about an event that had changed their lives. However, Jake was not prepared for what one of his students, Harry Dunning handed in. A terribly written, but shocking essay, about the October night in 1958 when his drunken father, came home, flew into a rage and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a severe leg injury that left him with a pronounced limp. Jake is horrified at what he had read.
A short time later, Jake’s friend, Al Templeton, who owns a local diner, has seemed to age overnight. He shares a secret with Jake, about a portal to the past (1958) which is located off a backroom of the diner. Al urges Jake to try it out, and tells him about what he was working on. On Jake's first attempt down the rabbit-hole and back in time, his plan is to try to prevent the deaths of Harry Dunning's mother and siblings. All does not go as planned, and every action taken to undo the past, causes a "butterfly effect" effecting the future. When Jake returns to 2011, he sees how sick Al is, and decides to carry out Al's plan, of going back in time to (1958), with all the information currently available about JFK's assassination and work to prevent President Kennedy's death.
Jake, travels back in time, from Maine, to Florida to Dallas and then to Jodi, Texas, under his new identity as George Amberson. He finds a job teaching school, falls in love with a woman named Sadie, and settles down in his new life and new neighborhood waiting for Lee Harvey Oswald and wife Maria to settle in as his neighbor, so that he can keep tabs on all of his moves.
Without giving away too many details about the plot, I'll just recommend that you invest the time and read it for yourself. The characters were fully fleshed out, and the writing drew me in and made me feel like I had been transported back in time as well. Having been born in the early 50's, reading this novel was like a blast from the past. Whether it was the music references, the vehicles, or the laughable price of gasoline, every detail from that period seemed authentic. It's one of those books that if you allow yourself to suspend belief and just go along for the ride, I think you'll agree it was worth your time.