The Ocean at the End of the Lane
When a middle-aged man returns to Sussex, England for a family funeral, a visit to his childhood neighborhood yields no remarkable memories…at first. But then he thinks of the farm down the lane.
As he drives down the narrowing lane towards the Hempstock farm, he thinks of Lettie Hempstock and the year he was seven. She was only eleven, but she knew important, mysterious things. With sudden surprising clarity, he recalls how she claimed the duck pond on their farm was really an ocean that carried her family here from long ago and far away.
Then the man remembers how Lettie had held his hand and protected him from many dangers…
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a terrific, fast-paced, coming-of-age fantasy tale for adults about all the mysteries of life, death, nature, the past, and the present. It begins with a man’s suicide at the pond and leads to a series of frightening, confusing and painful events.
Gaiman includes all the themes I love in a book and tells a scary story in which his characters unknowingly live alongside creatures pretending to be human and fight powerful monsters with supernatural shapes. An alarming struggle between father and son threatens to tip the balance of the young boy’s world and it’s up to Lettie to reverse the damage.
I think Gaiman has a remarkable insight into children’s minds, how they think, what frightens them and what makes them brave. He reminds me of all the small things I felt in my ordinary childhood and connects them to a powerful story about good versus evil and our human links to nature, the past, the present and the changing world.
The narrator wonders about these changes, but as old Mrs. Hempstock says, “Nothing’s ever the same. Be it a second later or a hundred years. It’s always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.”
A great read, with lots of scary twists and meaningful themes, suspenseful to the very last page. More of an adult book, despite the young characters, but okay for high schoolers.
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