The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

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The Ocean at The End of The Lane begins with a nameless man, who decided to visit the house he used to live in with his family when he was only seven. The bulk of the story consists of flashbacks of adventures which happened in the place where he spent most of his childhood in.

He was a bookish kid, living in his own world, with not many friends – not that he cared. His only friend was his odd neighbor named Lettie, and Lettie’s mother and grandmother. He frequently visits their house as he always felt welcomed in their company, besides wanting to run away from Ursula, his evil housekeeper.

There was a pond at the end of the lane where their houses stood, which Lettie insisted on calling an “ocean”. This place brought back strange memories, events, and a fascinating world that he experienced as a young boy. From exploring an unknown territory with Lettie, the girl who never seemed to age, to fighting the scary monsters who threatened to kill him, and much more.

This is essentially a story about childhood. Childhood, monsters, hopes, and fears. When we were children, we created worlds that adults don’t know of. When we were innocent kids, we saw things more clearly than adults do. As such, we feel that it is slightly reminiscent of ‘Coraline’ (which was our first book review in youth.sg, if you guys remember!) in this story.

The Ocean at The End of The Lane made us look back on our childhood days and wonder. Were the monsters we used to fear, hidden in our closets or under our beds, the monsters we imagined because of our childish fear? Or did they exist as a part of children’s coping mechanism – their natural way of making sense of adults who cause destruction and distress in their own lives, hurting the ones they love, including themselves?

Fantasy lovers, young ones, the young at heart, fans of Neil Gaiman, and even those yet to be a fan – this is the perfect book to start launching into this brilliant other world you never knew existed. It’s a quick read – about 180 pages – with several scenes and quotes which will resonate well with you. If you still need a little more conviction – The Ocean at The End of The Lane won the National Book Award in 2014. So well-deserved.

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