Jo Anne B's Reviews > 11/22/63

11/22/63 by Stephen King
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's review
Dec 11, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 10 to 11, 2011

“The past is obdurate. It doesn’t want to be changed. Resistance to change is proportional to how much the future might be altered by any given act.”

King hit one out of the ball park with this one! I have read many Stephen King novels but I feel that this was his best by a long shot. It seemed more like his legacy book that transcended all the others.

I love Stephen King’s writing. It is easy to read and full of funny one-liners that make you chuckle yet leaves you with a heavy heart. “I told him he was certainly welcome to his opinion; like assholes, everybody had one.” He incorporates classic American references that you can relate to making you glad you are in on the joke. The “Era of Universal Smoking”, the taste of a classic root beer, and driving a convertible ’54 Ford. I can just picture Stephen King sitting on his porch at home overlooking his land drinking a beer reminiscing about the good ‘ol days and then writing about it in this book.

It was very entertaining when Jake traveled back to the past. He had to make sure he dressed appropriately, “You can’t be caught dead without a tie.” As soon as Jake got to 1958 he had to buy a suit and tie and hat, “But not a baseball hat”. I just imagined everyone walking around like insurance salesman. Jake also caught himself before he attempted to use a 2002 coin in the pay phone but remembered what chain of events that could stir up. All the women wore dresses and people were so much friendlier back then. Until Jake saw the separate restrooms for black people that led to a board outside near water reminding him that not everything was better back then. Plus everyone smoked a lot of cigarettes back then. While he was being driven in a taxi Jake “unrolled my window to get away from the cigarette smog a little”.

I liked how the main character Jake joked about how he time traveled with King incorporating some author humor “Time travelers lie a lot” and “We’re going to take another leap forward in time (narratives also contain rabbit-holes, when you stop to think about it)” and “I am a Man Without a Time Frame” vs the American short story A Man Without a Country.

I didn’t think I would like this book because of the political references to JFK’s assassination. I thought this was going to be a propaganda piece about how much better America would be if JFK was not assassinated. I am glad this was not the case. Although you don’t really realize it to the end, this was about how it isn’t so easy to go back and change one thing, because in the process there are many other “strings” that get pulled that lead to many smaller changes that are all cumulative.

The supporting characters in this book were great. Al, Deke, Miz Mimi, Ellie, Mike Coslaw and of course the Yellow Card Man who isn’t who seems to be.

There was a portion of the book I did not like and that was the whole story or Lee and Marina. I did not care to know anything about these two and it didn’t really do anything to further the story. It wasn’t like Jake was watching them and planning out how he was going to stop Oswald from assassinating JFK so it served no purpose. I much preferred reading about Jake and Sadie and their relationship. Sadie was one amazing woman: so perceptive, smart, brave, and selfless.

When I head other people saying they cried at the ending I thought that was impossible. It turns out the ending was the best part of the book and you can’t help but get choked up. King did a fabulous job wrapping everything up. I didn’t see that ending coming and was extremely satisfied. It just makes you wonder the next time you meet somebody, “Have we met before?”
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Jason Great review for a great book. I love the quotes that you picked and your take on King's nostalgia.

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