11/22/63 - It's What We're Reading

2013 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.

11/23/63 11/22/63: a novel
by Stephen King

We know how our world has changed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. But, what if Kennedy didn’t die? That’s the final section of 11/22/63: a novel, however, King doesn’t go right to 1963. Before we get to 1963, we have to go back and forth in history a few times with Jake Epping, a teacher, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, getting to know him. While we’re getting to know Jake, we are also getting to know how this version of time travel works, while he tries to change history in smaller ways as test runs before the big event.

The mode of time travel that King chooses isn’t your standard issue science fiction time travel machine. It’s a portal in the storage room of a diner, a portal that always opens to the same date and location, September 9, 1958 in Lisbon Falls. And the portal resets any changes made if, after leaving the past, one goes back again. In Jake’s first forays through the portal he stays in Maine, doesn’t stay long, and returns to the his own time to check on what changes he wrought on the past.

The meat of the story is really Jake’s ultimate trip, when he goes to 1958 in Maine, and stays until 1963, moving eventually to Texas with stops on the way. Jake leads a kind of dual life in the past. He has his regular daily life with work and friends, and also his hidden life where he looks into Lee Harvey Oswald’s life, visits the Texas School Book Depository, and does other research, getting prepared to try to stop Oswald from assassinating JFK. No spoilers here, though, so if you want to know what happens you’ll have to read 11/22/63: a novel.

This book can be found in the Popular Reading collection on the first floor of the Library.