Pick of the Week: Ocean at the End of the Lane

Posted by on

My son and daughter are huge Neil Gaiman fans, and have recommended that I read his works. Matt especially likes Gaiman’s graphic novel series, Sandman, while Dana’s favorite is American Gods.  In the meantime, I figured I’d start with Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Now I can recommend a Gaiman book to my kids.

When the novel’s narrator returns to his boyhood home after a funeral, he is drawn to the farm he remembers at the end of the lane. As he looks out over the farm’s pond, bizarre memories come flooding back of a fantastical time when he was 7 years old and was befriended by 11-year-old Lettie Hempstock and her family.

For a story that is less than 200 pages, this book packs a wallop. Every paragraph is filled with amazing writing and observations about childhood and growing up. Here are just two of my favorites:

“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.”

 “Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is thrilling and scary and wonderful. If you want to add a bit of magic to your reading life, pick up a copy of this novel. And now I look forward to continue exploring the wonderful world of Neil Gaiman.

Jo Hansen, jhansen@cooklib.org


Jo Hansen has been a Readers’ Advisor at Cook Library for several years, after a 20-year career as a newspaper journalist. Libraries rock! She especially enjoys literary and historical fiction as well as mysteries and fantasy. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she enjoys playing with her chocolate Labrador Yogi Bear and watching great movies.