Wednesday, February 8, 2017

REVIEW: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman

When I saw that this audiobook featured Neil Gaiman reading his own story, I jumped right on it. Hell yeah!

I'm glad I did. It was great!!

I have hearing loss. Some narrators are just impossible for me to understand, even using headphones. But this recording was perfect. Gaiman read well and I could easily understand it all. I am beginning to understand the value of listening to a book while driving, doing housework, etc. This story was just so enjoyable to listen to. I think I enjoyed it more as an audio recording than I would have just reading it on my own. Gaiman's inflections and tone really helped get the story's intent across. I was totally engrossed in the story from the beginning.

The story begins with a 40-something year old man returning to his hometown to attend a funeral. He feels lost and sad, so he travels to the street where he lived when he was 7. The house has been torn down, but the neighbor's farm at the end of the lane is still there. He goes to visit and wanders to the pond on the property. Memories from his childhood flood back. He remembers long forgotten memories of a magical time with his friend Lettie Hempstock, her mother and grandmother. A suicide started the darkness flowing into his 7-year old world, but Lettie had promised to protect him. He was always safe with her, no matter what. The darkness builds...a danger threatening his very existence...but Lettie and her family are there, standing between him and the darkness.

On the surface, this story is a magical tale of a boy and his friend battling evil. At heart, this tale is about the adult world encroaching on the innocence of childhood. Cracks form....and darkness starts to come through....deaths, betrayals, jealousies, the knowledge that our parents are human and not perfect. It's all part of growing up and slowly but surely the darkness breaks through and we all have to join the adult world where magic doesn't exist and wonder is subjugated by responsibility.

I loved this story. It's beautifully written and just a fantastical journey back to a boy's first loss of that magical, unsullied childhood innocence.


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