But you're not here to read me waxing nostalgic. Moving on to the book itself...
English teacher Jake Epping is, by his own admission, not "a crying man." He's a divorcee to whom the local diner owner, Al makes a sudden revelation: Al's restaurant has a 'rabbit hole' to September 9th, 1958 in the back storeroom. Al himself has been using it for years to vacation, to purchase supplies at ridiculously-low prices... and to try to stop the assassination of JFK. He's discovered a few rules:
1. No matter how long you stay in the past, only two minutes will lapse in the present time. You will still age for the time you've been gone, which is why Al looks like death warmed-over when he gets back from his final attempt. Four years of lung cancer in the smoke-filled 50's and 60's will do that to you.
2. Every time you come back to the present and then re-enter the warp, everything resets. Nobody will remember meeting you and nothing you did will have taken place. Right back to September 9th, 1958 you go.
3. The past does not want to be changed, and it has no problem sending blockades up to say howdy.
Jake, burdened by a student's story of family slaughter in '58, is not hard to convince. He takes up Al's mission, reckoning he can do some heavy lifting and save the student's family while he's waiting for his appointment with Oswald in 1963; a sort of 'rewrite-history While-U-Wait', so to speak. But rule 3 intervenes and Jake gets caught up in his own obsession to Just Get It Right...and gets some painful surprises.
This book was heavy, and I don't mean just the fact that it was 850 pages long. It takes an absolute brass pair to tackle just the assassination (which has been written about so much, the horse went to glue long ago) but to bring in something as potentially sticky (there's that glue) as time-travel. You walk a line between getting into too much politics and too much plain old confusion.
Somehow King not just works that balance, he tapdances on it and invites you to join him. I don't say this often, but reading this book just made me *feel*. I was brimming with emotions and I would swear my hands were humming every time I had to put the book down. I walked through that doorway with Jake. I was there.
It's a strange thing to just feel that much and keep going because you're not sure if you're going to get drunk on what you feel or if it's going to light up like napalm while you're still holding the glass. Trust me; this book is worth it.