Book Review: "The Ocean At The End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

“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.” 
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I'm convinced he can do no wrong when it comes to fiction. It's his voice that is so spectacular, no matter what the story. In The Ocean At The End of the Lane, Gaiman explores what happens to a lonely young boy as long-hidden memories bubble up to the surface during a visit to his childhood home in Sussex, England.

This book is about magic. The magic of being a child, the magic of a world where a pond can be an ocean -- and actually is an ocean. Magic that is unleashed when, at 7, a lodger staying with the family commits suicide. The narrator and Lettie Hempstock, his neighbor and utterly precocious young girl whose family farm serves as a portal to other worlds, stir up powers beyond their reckoning.

I can't say much more without spoiling the mystery and fairy tale wonder that is this book. As I was reading the slim copy, I found myself writing down quotes from the book that make you sigh, as if your heart was just full up. That's just what Neil Gaiman does with his writing. It's haunting, absorbing, and beautiful. I have a feeling that this will be the best book of 2013. Plenty of other critics - more learned than I - would agree.

Neil Gaiman reading from The Ocean At The End of the Lane:

“That's the trouble with living things. Don't last very long. Kittens one day, old cats the next. And then just memories. And the memories fade and blend and smudge together.” 
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane