A fascinating, colorful novel about memories and childhood bravery, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane went above and beyond the normal fantasy story. A man, now divorced and with grown children, returns to the home where he grew up and feels compelled to pay a visit to the house at the end of the old farm road. The man is drawn to the duck pond behind the Hempstock’s farmhouse, which his childhood friend Lettie had once convinced him was an ocean. However, Lettie and the other strong Hempstock women were no ordinary family, and they seemed to know things that no one else knows, like the thoughts people have, how to make a full moon all the time, and how to cut time out of existence. Sitting at the “ocean,” the man begins to remember things from his childhood that had slipped his mind since he was seven. He recalls the unimaginable danger that took place in his old neighborhood and the frightening monsters and sights from which Lettie once saved him.
Neil Gaiman’s imagination knows no bounds in this compelling story of innocence and true friendship in the face of monstrous threat. The heartfelt account of childhood recollections is mixed with an unforgettable fairy-tale-esque depiction of a fantastical world our eyes cannot see.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a story with incredibly accurate characterization, an honest narrator, and a surprising allegorical aspect. This book will really make you think – about the world beyond yourself, human capability in the face of danger, and more. The Ocean will take you on the ride of a lifetime through the lens of the man’s nostalgic thoughts, but it’s difficult to be certain at any time if the events are just childhood fantasies or a factual telling of the improbable Hempstocks.
I loved this brief but poignant book, and would recommend it to those that enjoy fantasies like A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) or those looking for a simple but touching read.