The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the first of Neil Gaiman’s books that I’ve read, but I have a feeling it won’t be the last. I don’t think I would’ve picked it up on my own (it’s not typically my favorite genre), but the book club I joined chose it for their July book, and I’m so glad it nudged me in this direction. This was also the first book I checked out from our library here once we got our cards, too. Resolution still going strong 😉 It made it feel official!
The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells the story of a grown man returning to his childhood home and visiting his neighbor’s house, where he remembers an extraordinary friend, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother from when he was a little boy. Almost as if by magic, when he steps across the threshold of their property, memories come flooding back to him that he had otherwise forgotten. The rest of the book tells what happened when the boy was seven years old and something was afoot at the ocean at the end of the lane.
This was a relatively quick read (it took me ~2 days) and because of that, it makes for a great summer book. I think if you had an afternoon at the pool, you could finish this in one sitting. The story pulls you into another world that is somehow connected to this world, and days later, I’m still looking at everything around me in a new way. There are some lessons to be learned from this book, and it was a great one for a group discussion about some of the underlying themes/messages. I also like hearing how different people interpreted different parts of this story.
This incredibly imaginative story is completely new while somehow seeming to have existed in society’s collective conscious for all of time, like a familiar fairy tale I’m just now reading for the first time. Definitely check it out if you have the chance. I’ll be on the lookout for some of Gaiman’s other works – there are plenty to choose from and I’m glad I’m no longer a stranger to at least one of them!
Rating: 3/5 stars
Stats: 180 pages
Recommended for: Middle schoolers and up; anyone with a penchant for a magic twist to seemingly ordinary surroundings.
Up next: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery