I've been eyeing this book for some time at Barnes & Noble as I do my aimless wander looking at all of the pretties. Then I get email a few months ago asking if I wanted to review it and it felt like fate.
And I'm so glad I did.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Laneis told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
What an incredibly beautiful book. I finished it in one sitting because I just... I couldn't stop. Admittedly, the story is just down right odd because you just don't know quite what Lettie and her family are, and you have no idea what this thing that attaches to this poor boy. At the same time, it's gorgeous. You want to know so much more about Lettie, and you want this boy to defeat whatever the dark thing that has entered his life. For a while it feels a bit like David and the Goliath, but Lettie and her family are so remarkable they just are incredibly selfless towards this boy.
What was interesting to me is I was trying to think of the story beyond characters. It kind of comes down to people wanting, and sometimes needing, money. Maybe for all of the wrong reasons, maybe not. And you have this thing that wants to give you money and yet... yet you refuse to take it because what are the conditions? Is it the Devil? Are you making an deal that will gain you nothing and will lose you everything?
Then we have this ocean, which looks like a mere pond. The boy goes into the pond and what he experiences is like ambrosia almost. It's just.... you just want to get in the ocean yourself. Lettie's mother seems almost bitter at the end towards the boy but at the same time, sweet because it's like what Lettie does is really what their job on this Earth is. I suppose it's like seeing a firefighter save someone and come out seriously injured or not come out at all. You're sad that this has happened to the firefighter, but you just have all of this pride that they sacrificed for someone else and it's really one of the most selfless acts that as a human we can even do.
Overall? 5 stars. Dead serious. The book is a bit odd, but it's so beautiful. It's just... it's the kind of book you just hug afterwards because your heart is just so full for all of the characters. You're left with every emotion possible and yet you feel satisfied. I can't highly recommend this book enough.
Please visit Neil Gaiman's website, Facebook, and purchase the book at Barnes & Noble. (You can also get it from Amazon and Indiebound as well, but I'm pro actual bookstore.) You really won't be disappointed.