Think for a minute about the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.  Think of all the “what ifs” that crowd your mind.

Now, imagine if you had the ability to go back in time and make changes.  What would you do?  Would you go?

How much of your life would you sacrifice to make the changes?  How would the change you make in the past affect the future?

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Stephen King 11/22/63

These are the implied questions Stephen King asks in his novel, 11/22/63.

This book is a whopper at 840 pages.  I started it last summer but only got 140 pages into it before I had to give it up because we were getting ready to move to Arizona, and I got too busy.

I requested it through interlibrary loan several months ago and got it three weeks ago.  I immediately dove in, and I found myself annoyed that I couldn’t spend more time during the day reading it.  If only I didn’t have teaching, mothering and working obligations!  (Just kidding!)

As it was, the book is so long that I am a week overdue to return it, and I’ll have to pay a fine, but it was worth it to finally get through this book.

Jake Epping is living in Maine in 2011.  He’s a divorced, lonely high school teacher.  School has just ended for summer break when the local diner owner, Al Templeton, summons Jake.  Al is just a few days away from dying of cancer, and he has a task for Jake.  A monumental task.

Al explains that there is a rabbit hole of sorts in the back storage room of his restaurant.  Al himself has gone down the rabbit hole many times.  Each time, he finds himself back in time, September 9, 1958.

At first, Al used the rabbit hole to buy his meat at 1958 prices.  That’s how he can offer his burgers for such a steal, not by using meat from stray animals, as the town residents suspect.  Initially, Al only stayed briefly, but then, he realizes if he stayed longer—five years longer—he could change the world by stopping Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating President Kennedy.

However, Al doesn’t get to complete this mission because he develops lung cancer and must come back to the present.

He recruits a reluctant Jake to travel back in time and do what Al didn’t have time to do—kill Oswald before he can kill Kennedy.

Jake spends five years in the past to complete the mission, but his life changes in ways he’s unprepared for.  He even contemplates staying in the past when his task is complete.

King’s book is intriguing.  How does one change, be it small or major like preventing the Kennedy assassination, change the world?  Is our world one fragile house of cards where the slightest change can bring things crashing down?  Even if we somehow had the power to change the past, should we?

Don’t let the length of this book deter you.  It’s well worth the time investment for an excellent read that will leave you wondering long after you finish.

The only negative I have about this book is I got bogged down a bit in the middle when King focused heavily on Oswald’s life, communism, and the politics behind his life and motives.  However, that was only briefly in an otherwise excellent book.

5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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