“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”
Oh, narrator how I feel your pain! The sweet adventurous moments of childhood when a step outside your door seemed like an adventure, monsters roamed around your home in the dark and duck ponds turned into… oceans at the end of the lane. I’ve planned to read American Gods for quite a while now, but I got my hands on the Ocean first, so here’s my review of Neil Gaiman’s latest tale.
“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”
There are books that you read, there are books that you drop and there are books that you devour, plunging into the story with your heart and soul. Ocean is one of the latter kind.
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood village to attend a funeral. He drives his car to the end of the lane, where his parents’ lodger committed suicide in their own car, when the narrator was 7. That’s where he met 11-year-old Lettie Hempstock, who might have been 11 for a few centuries at least. The magical encounter leads the narrator to the Hempstock farm where magic and wonder reign, where he meets Lettie’s mother, grandmother and the cute kitten that grew up like a potato on a patch. Yes, really. The suicide of the opal miner unchains a series of magical events that threaten the lives of everyone who is close to the boy, yet who is going to save the day?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is strange. One of the strangest books you’d be likely to ever read, yet there is an immense beauty and wisdom in all its strangeness. It is a book you love not quite knowing why. It is vivid, and bright, an enchanting adventure that was or was not conjured up by the narrator as a child. A masterfully-written tale of childhood and growing up unafraid of the monsters that live in the dark, a book that’s so pure, that you’d want to start believing in Lettie. Because somewhere, a duck pond really is an ocean.
Overall note: 4,5*