I started writing this review a few minutes after I had finished this book and then I realized that maybe that was a mistake, because I think I needed some more time to process what I had just read, so I had to leave the review and come back to it after a little bit of time had passed.
Of course, I was expecting The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman to be lovely, because let's face it, it's Neil Gaiman and he is amazing. The hardest thing about reviewing this short little gem for you all was how to talk about it without giving too much of it away, because I feel like no matter how I describe it for you, you sort of just have to read it to get it.
The core of this book is magic: the magic of childhood, of memory, of being an outsider, not just in the world at large but an outsider in your own family, and occasionally an outsider in your own life. The book of course takes place in the English countryside, which is perfect, because I have always believed that the English countryside is magical. (Having now had the opportunity to see it with my own eyes, I believe it even more wholeheartedly.) A man, whose name we never learn, is home for a family funeral after a long absence and decides to take a walk down the lane to see what is left of his childhood. He knows the house he grows up in is long gone, but he has fond memories of an old farm where he used to play with a girl named Lettie. Lettie would take him to a pond on the property and tell him that it was her own personal ocean.
Now, as an adult he sits by the "ocean" and is suddenly flooded with memories he has long forgotten. Memories of magic, a family of incredibly special and powerful women, a monster, childhood traumas, and so much more. This experience raises so many powerful issues for the readers. Issues about our memories, our childhoods, the people who come into and out of our lives and the huge differences between how we see the world as children and how we see them as adults. y
My favorite quote from the book sort of sums it all up for me. It happens when Lettie tells our young protagonist, “Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.” I think that sort of says all that needs to be said. Go read this one. have tissues handy.
Final rating: 5/5 bookmarks