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.
Sadie dances with Don at the Sadie Hawkins dance. Don's referenced a couple more times throughout the book as well. (Curiously, throughout 11/22/63, Don's last name is spelled with two G's.)
The portal Jake travels to opens up in Lisbon Falls on Tuesday, September 9, 1958.
I didn’t go anywhere at first, just stood still, wiping my mouth with the palm of my hand. My eyes felt like they were bugging out of their sockets. My scalp and a narrow strip of skin all the way down the middle of my back was crawling. I was scared—almost terrified—but balancing that off and keeping panic at bay (for the moment) was a powerful curiosity. I could see my shadow on the concrete, as clear as something cut from black cloth. I could see flakes of rust on the chain that closed the drying shed off from the rest of the courtyard. I could smell the powerful effluent pouring from the triple stacks, strong enough to make my eyes sting. An EPA inspector would have taken one sniff of that shit and shut the whole operation down in a New England minute. Except . . . I didn’t think there were any EPA inspectors in the vicinity. I wasn’t even sure the EPA had been invented yet. I knew where I was; Lisbon Falls, Maine, deep in the heart of Androscoggin County. The real question was when I was.
Jake spots a red and white Plymouth Fury (mid-or-late fifties, ha!) in the parking lot when he arrives in Lisbon Falls in 1958. This is just the first of 11 times Jake sees this car (ultimately, it becomes clear that the car is playing a much larger part in his time traveling coincidences than he originally thought).
The newest car in the lot was a Plymouth Fury from—I think—the mid-or late fifties. The plate on it looked like an impossibly antique version of the one on the back of my Subaru; that plate came, at my ex-wife’s request, with a pink breast cancer ribbon. The one I was looking at now did say VACATIONLAND, but it was orange instead of white. As in most states, Maine plates now come with letters—the one on my Subaru is 23383 IY—but the one on the back of the almost-new white-over-red Fury was 90-811. No letters.
Jake tells Al that Harry Dunning's father died in Shawshank. The prison is mentioned twice more in the book, as Jake worries about ending up there in the past.
“You could say the same of Oswald. A pipsqueak who shot from ambush. And according to Harry Dunning’s theme, his father’s just a mean drunk with a hammer.” “He’s not even that anymore. He died of acute stomach poisoning in Shawshank State Prison. Harry said it was probably bad squeeze. That’s—” “I know what squeeze is. I saw plenty when I was stationed in the Philippines. Even drank some, to my sorrow. But he’s not dead where you’re going. Oswald, either.”
Jake meets Norbert Keene when he gets to Derry. He shows up a number of times throughout the book, particularly with Jake reminiscing about Keene winking at him in the drugstore.
And the thin, bespectacled man in the white smock who was looking out at me just about had to be Mr. Keene. His expression did not say Come on in, stranger, poke around and buy something, maybe have an ice cream soda. Those hard eyes and that turned-down mouth said Go away, there’s nothing here for the likes of you. Part of me thought I was making that up; most of me knew I wasn’t.
Jake runs into Bev and Richie Tozier dancing in a picnic area in Derry in 1958. They mention the clown, talk about Dorsey Corcoran and Tugga Dunning, and even ask Jake about the Turtle. Jake helps Bev learn the Lindy and thinks about her often after their encounter (specifically, her feeling that the worst was over in Derry).
“Who are you, Miss?” I asked. “Bevvie-Bevvie, I live on the levee,” she said, and started giggling again. “Sorry—Richie’s a fool, but I have no excuse. Beverly Marsh. You’re not from around here, are you?”
The DCHS football team plays (and defeats) the Arnette Bears.
We sat in Faculty Row and cheered as Jim LaDue riddled the Arnette Bears’ defense with half a dozen short passes and then a sixty-yard bomb that brought the crowd to its feet. At halftime the score was Denholm 31, Arnette 6.
Ernie Calvert writes the article (in 1963) about Sadie's near-miss when attacked by her husband with a knife.
MENTAL PATIENT SLASHES EX-WIFE, COMMITS SUICIDE By Ernie Calvert (JODIE) 77-year-old Deacon “Deke” Simmons and Denholm Consolidated School District Principal Ellen Dockerty arrived too late on Sunday night to save Sadie Dunhill from being seriously hurt, but things could have been much worse for the popular 28-year-old school librarian.
References will be here!