11/22/63 by Stephen King

11-22-63“Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.” – Goodreads

Holy Mother of Sweet Baby Jesus.

Hands down, BEST book I’ve read this year.

Sorry, David Joy (I promise you came in at a close second).

I was a Stephen King fan back when I was in middle school. In my first year of high school, I read It, which scared the crap out of me. Beyond words. And that, my friends, was the end of me and horror novels. I broke up with Stephen King lickety-split, I will tell you what. Swore him off fo-eva, y’all.

But people would not shut up about 11/22/63. So, I bought it for my Kindle Paperwhite. Back in, oh, January of 2013. And there it sat, on my Kindle bookshelf, for two years. Taunting me, daring me, threatening me with visions of 849 pages of possibly creepy science-fiction-y boredom… Oh, how wrong I was. How. Wrong. I. Was.

Along with all of the accolades, ultimately the premise of this book was just too good to pass up. At the urging of my MomAdvice Book Club, I gritted my teeth and dug in. And I’m ever so glad that I did. There is so much to this novel that it is difficult to craft a concise summary about it. It is nothing like the Stephen King novels I read oh so many years ago. Those who enjoy historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in 60’s history – and maybe a side interest in sci-fi – will enjoy this book.

And, y’all, this is no joke – I flew threw all 849 pages of this novel – absolutely captivating, I tell you. King quite obviously researched the hell out of the time period he was writing about – details, details, details. His writing was simply flawless. I was a bit concerned that at some point, perhaps near the end of the book, that things would take a bend toward the science fiction side of things and ruin the beauty of this work – and while it did rear its head, it wasn’t in a bad way at all. Y’all, I am not lying when I tell you that I loved everything about 11/22/63. Except the fact that it ended. Boo-hoo for me.

11/22/63 by Stephen King. Read it today!

5 stars

Source: Personal Library {Kindle Paperwhite}

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

kindred“Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.” – Goodreads

After I finished reading Kindred by the late Octavia E. Butler, I was surprised to learn that not only was it not a recent release, but that it was actually published in 1979. Furthermore, I learned that its author classified its genre as Science Fiction. Feel free to call me biased; I would never have expected to connect with this book the way I did had I known it’s genre and publishing date. But connect I did, and in a profound way.

I don’t want to go into the content of the tale too much beyond the book summary posted above this review, in fear of including spoilers. I’ll admit that it was a bit of a stretch for me to crack open a “historical fiction” novel that included time travel – definitely not my usual sort of thing. Yet Butler does not attempt to explain the details or mechanics of the time travel in Kindred, in fact it is but a small detail of the larger story she is trying to tell; the time travel simply playing the role of allowing the tale to unfold. Instead,  Butler seems to be approaching a different question: How would a modern day person – Black or White – react if they were thrown back into the darkest days of slavery? How would he/she survive? What could they learn? And most importantly, how would their perception of these times change after personally living there?

A rich tale of love, gender, race, and responsibility, this harrowing and emotional read is also a fast-moving and action-packed novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. When I wasn’t reading Kindred, I was thinking about it; counting the minutes until I could get back to it and read it until the very end. This was difficult to read at times because of the blatant look at the violence and tragedy of slavery, but I do believe that opening readers’ eyes to these things is a part of what Butler had intended. She is an expert at communicating knowledge through story, and I know that am better for what I read and learned in this novel. Highly recommended.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: Read it today!

4.5 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries