Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Synopsis: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
Thoughts: Well this was a perfectly peculiar read. I’ve been pretty swamped since school picked back up and unfortunately haven’t been able to read as much as I’d like; I needed a little kick to get back into the swing of things, and Gaiman’s latest book did the trick. I hate to admit that this is the first book of Gaiman’s that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of what it felt like to be a child. TOATEOTL illustrates how the world looks to a child: scary and magical, yet so matter-of-fact. TOATEOTL blurs the lines between reality and fantasy and urges its readers to accept that truth in memory is subjective. The narrator represents how many bookish children presumably feel: lonely and misunderstood, yet safe with a good book. Many questions about the Hempstocks and their magic are left unanswered, which works perfectly for a book that is rooted in the intangible. TOATEOTL is a reminder of the wonderment of childhood; it’s self-referential in that it’s a children’s book masquerading itself for adults, alleging that we never really grow up.
Bottom line: Beautifully written and bursting with imagination, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a magical read that will leave you feeling nostalgic.