Title/Author: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neal Gaiman.
Publisher: William Morrow.
Favorite Quote: Adults follow paths. Children explore. ~The nameless boy.
Synopsis: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what. ~Goodreads.com
This story is told in the first person and it took me a while to realize he didn't give his name, which makes it more mysterious and more accessible at the same time.
Gaiman's writing is surreal and superb and he takes you by the hand and leads you into his fantasy. I love the characters of Lettie Hempstock, her mother Mrs. Hempstock and then there is Granny Hempstock. All of these women have special abilities and teach the main character/narrator certain things about life and the universe. I think it's not only about memories, but about self sacrifice. It's sweet and bittersweet at the same time.
I also loved the echoes of fairy tales, myths, spirituality and Paganism if you read between the lines. The three ladies to me, represented Maiden, Mother, Crone.
What I really loved about this book is the ending. Sometimes an ending is weak compared to the story at large, but I felt the ending was stronger and more powerful than even the events leading up to it. The conclusion also put together a lot of pieces to a puzzle I didn't know even existed.
The only issue I had is that while it was creative and beautiful, I felt like I had read many stories like it before. Maybe it's because the simplicity of the story - good vs. evil - or rather balance vs. chaos, is a common theme.
Wrap up: A lovely and poetic fantasy story. A must if you're a Gaiman fan.