I kept meaning to read this novel for awhile, but never got around to it. Obviously this book has what I love, time-travel and history. The book was fantastic, but King books normally are, so I was not shocked. Plus there were Dark Tower connections.
The premise is that an English teacher, named Jake, is shown a rift in time by a diner owner. You can enter this hole and go back to 1958. Every time someone goes through the rabbit hole (as they call it), the past resets. So whatever changes you made would be undone. Also, when you come back from the past, it has only been two minutes since you went through. Al wants Jake to go back and save President Kennedy. He feels that saving JFK will change the world significantly.
The first part of the book deals with Jake going back to 1958 to save a family in order to see if the past can be changed. Al (the diner owner) had saved a young girl from being paralyzed, but Jake is not convinced that is a big enough thing to change. The family he is going to save is supposed to be murdered and he wants to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, he learns that the past is obdurate, in that it does not want to be changed and that it fights back proportionally to the changes.
Once Jake learns that it can be done, he returns to the present and informs Al that he was successful. Sadly though, he learns that there were negative consequences. Jake goes back again and this time he plans on going for the duration. Armed with extensive notes about Lee Harvey Oswald, a list of sporting events to bet on for money, and a purpose to his life.
Unfortunately, he has to start his mission by saving the family once again, then saving the paralyzed girl. Once he makes his way to Texas, he has to wait on Oswald. The problem is that Al was not 100% sure if he was the lone gunman, but he had a way of testing the theory, so Jake has to wait. The next huge chunk of the book is Jake’s time in a small town in Texas as a teacher.
The book brings up many good time-travel questions and eventually we learn the cost of Jake’s actions. Without giving anything away, things turn out pretty insane. Like most King books though, the ending is not really the important thing, it is how he gets us there. For example, the love story between Jake and Sadie is fantastic and King definitely gives us more emotion between the two than many other writers could have in a weird sci-fi/mystery/suspense thriller.
One of the things I really loved was the whole “broom” thing. Again, not to give anything away, but Sadie keeps referencing a broom that her ex-husband used on her and that is why she is so afraid of opening up to Jake. Many other writers would have tried to go with the most shocking or graphic thing possible after allowing the reader to wonder about this broom. Stephen King does not do that, instead he gives us a very emotional tale, that resonates much more than anything disgusting.
Oh and did I mention there were Dark Tower connections? Okay, when Jake goes back to stop the family from being murdered, he goes to Derry, Maine. You may remember Derry as the town from the book, It. In fact, his trip there happens after the Losers stop Pennywise the first time. He meets a few of the characters from the book. Now I know what you are about to say, and yes that is kind of cool that it is a shared universe, but how does that connect with the Dark Tower?
The answer is Dandelo. Remember that creature that almost kills Roland? It makes him laugh almost to the point of death? Dandelo is the same kind of being as Pennywise. Plus there is something else, Jake is able to sense an evil about certain buildings and it reminded me of how Eddie and his brother could sense an evil about the house on Dutch Hill (the house that Jake Chambers uses to enter Roland’s world). I wonder how many other references there are that I probably missed. I am sure there were a few 19s. Also the Yellow Card Man (Men) reminded me of the guys from Insomnia. Well, come to think of it, the whole rabbit hole reminds me of going todash and…okay, I could probably go on forever.
Anyways, if you are a fan of time-travel, 1960s era history, Stephen King, or even romantic thrillers, then I highly recommend this book.