The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
If you haven’t read a Neil Gaiman book before, this is a wonderful book to start off with. Before this book, I have never read a Neil Gaiman book and it did it for me. It sparked an interest with this author that made me buy American Gods, another of his critically acclaimed novels.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane begins with an old man going back to his hometown to attend a family funeral. He seems drawn to his childhood house, which doesn’t exist anymore. He reaches the end of the lane, where he remembers a childhood friend, Lettie, used to live.
He visits the house and is met by Lettie’s mother who shows him to the backyard where there is a pond, a pond that Lettie called her “ocean”. While sitting by the pond, he begins to recall events from his childhood he never remembered before. All stemming from the suicide of a man at the very end of the same lane.
I went into this book with just hearing the praise of other people, and not knowing anything about the plot, and I’m glad I did. It’s a relatively quick read, I read it in two sittings, only because I had a final though!
Gaiman has a way of intertwining adult fiction and a tale that could (sort of) read as a children’s book, though a child shouldn’t probably read it because it does contain adult themes. I really liked how Gaiman was able to capture the voice of a child and still entertain me. It was beautifully written, connecting one with emotions that one could have felt as a young child. It leaves one wondering if these events are real, or merely a child’s imagination. Even by the end of the novel, one’s perception of what is reality and what might have been childlike exaggeration isn’t completely black and white.
A wonderful read for a weekend or just to enjoy.