The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman
Review by Gayle Surrette
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062255655
Date: 18 June 2013 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Ocean at the end of the Lane is a story told as a reminiscence by an adult who has returned to a town he spent much of his youth in because of a family funeral. This adult, after the trial of the funeral, visits some of the scenes of his childhood and remembers that he had a friend that lived down the lane from his childhood home and decides to see if her house is still there.
Once he sees the house, he remembers how he met Lettie Hempstock and how she referred to the farm pond behind her house as an ocean. He remembers the kindness of her mother and grandmother. And he remembered that summer with the danger and adventures that they shared.
Even though the story is set between our narrator's arrival in his old home town because of a funeral and ends with his return to his family and the business of settling the estate, the central story of that summer of what happened or didn't happen when he was seven and met Lettie. Part fable, part fairy tale and part cautionary tale, The Ocean at the end of the Lane is by turns hauntingly beautiful, painfully intense, funny, witty, wise, scary, and heart wrenchingly sad.
Reading it is a roller coaster ride of emotions, though it's all just words on a page -- a story, fiction. In the hands of a master storyteller, words form paragraphs and sections, they touch your heart and tell you something of the wonder of the world -- all the possibilities. And they even play with our sense of reality, of what might be, or could be, if we open ourselves to the possibilities.
The Ocean at the end of the Lane is a treat no matter how you look at it. Enjoy the time you spend with our narrator and Lettie Hempstock, but keep a box of tissues with you, just in case.