BOOK CLUB: 11/22/63 — An Enthralling Blend of History, Time Travel, and Suspense

11-22-63-Stephen-King

Jake Epping is a high school English teacher. His good friend Al has discovered a portal into the past in his diner’s storeroom. Dying of lung cancer, Al persuades Jake to go back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The book was a departure for Stephen King, who is known for stories filled with paranormal activity and horror.  The club specifically chose 11/22/63 in November as we observed the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

Seventy-one club members were welcomed to Al’s Diner and cautioned to watch their step as they travelled into the past. They were invited to taste Moxie, a New England soda with a decidedly different taste, and enjoy PayDay candy bars, both of which appear conspicuously in the book.

The first question the group addressed was could this story have been written in less than 842 pages? A few members felt it could have been edited down. However, the vast majority said this was such a page-turner and they became so involved in the story that they wanted even more. Members lauded King’s extensive research and thought the details brought back vivid recollections, not just of the assassination but also of the era.

The group discussed the meaning of the term “harmonics” that Jake repeatedly uses. He describes it as a force similar to a wall that keeps him from completing tasks in the past, as well as a series of coincidences. When asked if the story contained harmonics that had personal effects on them, the members revealed some interesting anecdotes. Others discovered 50-year-old copies of Life magazine published as a tribute to the slain president.

When asked what the world would have been like had JFK survived the assassination attempt, the group offered a variety of scenarios, including the pullout of troops from Vietnam and no hippies and flower power in the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

Book club members were also asked would they go back in time and change something in their lives if they had the chance. Surprisingly, only one member wanted to go back and change an event in her life. The rest of the group felt they would not take that chance since making even a small change could have major repercussions and perhaps make the outcome even worse.

The group felt this story was compelling, starting with the very first page, and the plot twists were amazing. They also learned some new facts about the assassination, and the book provided a provocative and stimulating discussion. It’s a must-read!


The Next Meeting
The Bookworm Book Club will meet Jan. 21 to discuss The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid by Craig Pittman. Club chair Kathy Porter can be contacted by phone at 352.259.8196 or email at kathymporter@comcast.net.


About the Author

Born in 1947, King is a graduate of the University of Maine. King was an English teacher before the publication of Carrie enabled him to become a full-time writer. In 1999, King was critically injured when he was hit by a car while walking near his home. He still suffers from his injuries but that has not kept him from writing. He is now one of the world’s best known authors with 50 books to his credit. King and his wife, Tabitha, have three children and four grandchildren. His current book is a sequel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep.

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