Published: June 18th, 2013 by William Morrow Books Genre: young adult, fantasy, science fiction Source/Format: borrowed; hardcover, 181 pages Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.99
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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.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Laneis told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark. —goodreads
I lay on the bed and lost myself in stories. I liked that. Books were safer than other people anyway.
It has been a serious while since I’ve picked up a Neil Gaiman book. This isn’t because I dislike his writing, in fact, I adore it. It’s my fault that I’ve waited so long to crawl back into that cozy feeling I got when I last read Fragile Things back in 2009 or 2010. I borrowed this book from a coworker, who seems to have stolen it or purchased it from a library in Missouri. I claim no involvement if it’s the prior. This was the PERFECT book to pull me out of the GOD AWFUL reading slump I found myself in throughout the entire month of April.
To be honest, I didn’t even know this book existed for some time, but since I started reading it, I’ve seen it just about everywhere. While listening to one of my favorite podcasts (NPR’s Ask Me Another), I learned that Gaiman originally wrote this short book as a “weird combination of romantic gesture, and love letter” for his equally talented, musical wife Amanda Palmer. To be honest, I think that just made this book give me even more warm fuzzies.
This novel, albeit short, took me a while to read (note: book slump above), but once I found my groove I devoured it. I had a really hard time explaining this book to people without giving anything away. I could explain it only as how childhood felt. That feel when you don’t quite understand everything that is going on around you. That feeling of total and complete innocence, fear and trust. This book as so much magic and mystery surrounding its characters that is really just delightful.
I really enjoyed the fact that the narrator tells the story completely through this elaborate memory from when he was seven years old. He, of course, remembers it better than I can even remember what I had for breakfast on Monday morning (coffee while running late for work?). As a reader, it made it easier for me to put myself in that mindset and really grip the fear of the unknown every time I turned a page.
Read if you like: Coraline, strong female characters who protect small children, if you were scared the monster in the closet, night lights.