In Stephen King’s ‘Later,’ A Young Boy Must Summon the Courage It Takes to Survive [REVIEW]

Silhouette of boy in front of sunset
A boy unwittingly becomes a cop’s secret weapon in Later. (Photo courtesy of Canva)

From the beginning, she knew her son was different. No matter how hard she tries to give him a typical childhood, it just isn’t in the cards. Because her son is no ordinary boy, and the sooner she can accept that the better. But she can’t think about that now. Perhaps Later. There’s just one thing, when Stephen King pens your story, things seldom go your way.

Stephen King's LATER
Hard Case Crime

Jamie Conklin’s mom is a chain-smoking single parent whose head is perpetually buried in a book (she is a literary agent after all). Still, she’s doing her best to raise a son, put food on the table, and keep her struggling business afloat.

She knows Jamie is different, that he has abilities the other kids simply don’t have. He sees things no one else can and learns things no one else should know. That’s why she urges him to keep his talents a secret, because the world simply won’t understand what it is that he’s capable of.

Then his mom’s friend, an NYPD detective, discovers what he can do, and she persuades him to help her catch a serial killer. The only thing is, once she sinks her teeth into Jamie, she becomes determined to use his skills again and again, no matter the cost. Can Jamie escape her clutches? Or will he be bound to her for the rest of his life? Don’t worry. You’ll find out later.

Stephen King has a real knack for writing about kids in peril, whether they’re being pursued by a monstrous clown (It), manipulated by a creepy shopkeeper (Needful Things), or hunted by a fringe government agency that operates in the shadows (The Institute). In Later, his young protagonist must escape the clutches of a bad cop who goes off the rails.

Jamie is a boy we quickly empathize with, one who does his best to make his mom happy and fly under the radar. Through no fault of his own, he finds himself embroiled in one mess after another. Despite his precarious position, however, he manages to summon the courage it takes to come of age and become a survivor. The result is a story that speaks to the hero that lies dormant within all of us, no matter where we come from or what situation we may face. Later is a triumphant tale that reminds us to accept what we cannot change and focus on what we can.

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Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories.

In the fall of 1971, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world’s most successful writers.

King is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to the American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter, or subscribe to his YouTube channel.

By Stephen King
272 pp. Hard Case Crime. $14.95

Purchase Later direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Half Price Books | Hudson Booksellers | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target | Walmart.

Stephen King
Stephen King
(Photo by Shane Leonard)

About J.R. Wallace
J.R. Wallace is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys cooking, reading, travel and fitness. He lives in Ohio with his family, two cats and a ferret named Igor.

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