The Ocean at The End of The Lane By Neil Gaiman

“Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up heart and soul.”

Joanne Harris

I was greeted by this statement when I unboxed it. The quote promised me that I was about to be welcomed into another great and wonderful word of Neil Gaiman. I have never read his book that I find it’s not my taste, and this book certainly lives up to my expectation.

I must confess that I bought the book because of the author and the cool-sounding title, not the story itself. I had no idea what it was about. At first, after a few pages in, I thought it was about the normal life of a boy but then there came fantastical elements. Then, I realized, I was reading Gaiman’s book. If it isn’t entirely fantasy then it must be magical realism.

Magical or not, that isn’t important. The important thing is that it’s a wonderful reading.

The story begins with a man’s arrival at a house where a very memorable moment of his life, if not the most, happens to him when he was young.

Then comes a flashback. The protagonist and narrator, whose name isn’t mentioned once in the story, meet a girl, Lettie, by accident. She lives in the house at the end of the lane.  There was a pond behind her house, but she insists that it was an ocean, hence the title: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

She introduces him into her magical world, but something goes wrong. A monster comes from that world into his house in the form of a nanny. Lettie and our protagonist must send her back and that is the main adventure of the story.

The story plays on the theme of left-behind childhood and present-day adulthood. When we, adults, face hardship in our lives, we often revisit our dear deep-buried memories of the past, just like the protagonist comes to visit the Hempstocks. The revisit gives us the opportunity to treasure what we’ve passed and looked at what we’ve become. Maybe we will be surprised at how similar we are to our young selves.

“Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

And though how much disappointed we are towards ourselves (just like I am), just remember old Ms Hempstock’s wise words.

“And did I pass?” The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk. On my left, the younger woman said, “You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”

You are you, in your own way,
and the present you are the best version of you.

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