Friday, August 2, 2013
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
If you like: Coraline * kittens * friendship
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the story of reliving memories that haunt you like a dream. Sometimes, the imagination of children creates entire worlds, and sometimes it allows them to visit worlds the normally exist unseen. In The Ocean, the main character stumbles upon one of these worlds, and a good friend from ours who guides him through. These events are so deep-rooted in his mind that they feel like they must have been a dream, but unlike a dream the more he considers them the more real they become. Looking back as an adult, it would be easy to dismiss these occurrences as a coping mechanism for difficult times, but the only reality that becomes more clear is that of Lettie Hempstock and her ocean.
Childhood is the time that the veil between real and imagined is its thinnest. The smallest things can have significant impact. In The Ocean, the suicide of a boarder is one of these precipitating events. Upon the discovery of this painful intrusion into his life, the main character meets Lettie Hempstock. She provides him with an entirely new perspective on the nature of things. At the perfect age to believe in such things, he dives in with passion and works to put things right once again. Their journey together puts the weight of the world on the shoulders of two young children.
The marvelous combination of fantasy and reality in The Ocean makes it impossible to put down. The conflicts between both worlds run in perfect parallel, and each intensifies the gravity of the other. It would be much easier to believe that death is caused by monsters, and that parents are bewitched by the monster’s charms, rather than having faults in their own character. While the events that transpire could easily be dismissed as a young boy’s way of coping, it is just as tangible that what happened to him is real. It is no trouble for the reader to become engrossed in the magical essence of the Hempstocks and believe their truth. It is a nicer world where there are ever-lasting guardians keeping things in line, and one we would all like to believe in.
If you would keep the moon at its fullest every night, read The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2013. Kindle Edition.