The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Published by William Morrow Books
Released June 18, 2013
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I re-read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane during the 2019 Reading Rush as my selection for the “Read a book with five or more words in the title” prompt.
Neil Gaiman has been one of my favorite authors for years, and this was my third re-read of this particular book. It’s quite short (just 181 pages), so I was able to finish it in a single afternoon. It’s a magical realism story that deals with memories, sacrifice, and friendship, and has a very melancholy yet hopeful atmosphere.
Our main character returns to his hometown for a funeral and ends up at an old house at the end of the lane where he grew up. He sets down at the pond and remembers his childhood, especially his friend Lettie Hempstock, and all of the unusual and magical events that took place when he was a child.
There are monsters, magical lands, an adorable kitten that’s pulled from the ground, and so much more. Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother are all amazing characters, and they’re the real stars of this novel.
You’re left wondering if these events really happened, and that’s part of the magic of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, along with some of Gaiman’s other books. There are questions that you’ll think of while reading this book that are never explicitly answered, but it does not at all take away from the story. In fact, it makes it more enchanting.
The reason Gaiman is one of my favorite authors is his ability to write fantastical, dark, and whimsical narratives, and this novel is an absolutely perfect example of that.
This book features a child as the main character, but it’s typically found in the adult section of bookstores. I think this is a book that people of all age ranges can enjoy. There are a few scenes that feature suicide and sex, although none of these scenes are particularly graphic, so I feel that it’s definitely okay for the young adult audience.
I’m not going to lie – this is a very difficult book to review, especially when I’m not trying to spoil anything. I really believe that this is a book that you should go into blind. While I understand that Neil Gaiman’s writing isn’t for everyone, if you have enjoyed any of his other novels, please give this one on a shot! I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.