This is the second post for a readalong of Stephen King's 11/22/63 hosted by Grace. Today we are posting about the last three sections of the book. My previous post on sections 1-3 is here.
King knows how to write some good foreshadowing:
1. Jake is not a crying man.
2. Sadie is accident-prone.
3. As Jake writes his memoir, he has on the loafers Sadie gave him because "some things are meant to keep."
My eyes popped open at 4:00 a.m. one morning when I was half-way through 11/22/63 and it all came together in one lucid moment. I knew Sadie was destined to have an accident and that Jake would become a crying man. He'd be forced to return to the future, leaving behind his One True Love in the smoky Sixties. In 2011, he'd travel to a Texas nursing home or a hospital to visit an elderly--yet still beautiful--woman who he had once loved--still loves--but who won't remember him. And that's exactly what happened, except it wasn't a nursing home. And that kind of disappoints me. Because is that a Hollywood ending, or what? (I cried anyway. I'm a sucker.) I love the foreshadowing, but the predictability? Not so much. Except maybe King had to be predictable... Because what would YOU do if you left the Love of Your Life in the past? You would tab open Google in a heartbeat and try to track down the octogenarian of your dreams. A less predictable, but far more disheartening ending to the Sadie-Jake dance would have been if Jake had discovered that John Clayton had succeeded in killing Sadie without Jake's intervention.
Jake's deceitfulness to Sadie and Deke and Ellie was really grating on me and also getting kind of repetitive. It would have gone a long way for him to have whispered to Sadie some night in bed, "My name is really Jake. Please call me Jake." When he finally admitted to her that his name wasn't George, I felt relief. He's screwing up the world, but at least his relationship is intact. And when he told her the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I was relieved that he could share his burden, but dismayed... because nothing good could come of that. Al told him not to get too close to anyone. So what did he do? He fell in love with an entire Texas community and with the Love of His Life. He took her virginity, saved her from her crazy ex, and told her he came from the futuristic world of integration and non-smoking buses. How's that for not getting close?
From the beginning, I was worried about the "playing God" aspect of Al and Jake's plan. In all their conjecture about the ramifications of JFK's death, they didn't even consider that preventing the assassination would set a chain of events in motion that could be worse. And call me a coward, but I'd prefer the Devil I Know to the Devil I Don't. Jake learns the hard way that playing God is no FUN. And it doesn't WORK. And that rends him forever from Sadie's life. She dies in Round One in saving JFK, but it's OK, he can reset and start again. Until he realizes, with the help of the Green Card Man, that he can't go back to be with Sadie for Round Two and more poundcake. He'd totally whack out the time-space continuum, or some sci-fi malarchy like that. What did I warn you last time, Jake? This isn't a video game! (Why won't characters ever listen me!?)
Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story's just a story.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars. Truly an amazing book. Original and lovely and heartbreaking.