First Line Fridays: “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman

First Line Fridays

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Today’s FLF line comes from one of my favorite books from one of my all-time favorite author, Neil Gaiman.

Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

 

 

I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretensing to be an adult.

 

 

 

 

It’s been five years since the last time I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane but still, the story hasn’t left. It’s about a man who comes back to his hometown after being away from it for so long. There he re-discovers things from his childhood which he had forgotten. It left me thinking just how this happens to most of us at one point or another. We grow old and we forget how happy and carefree we once were. We forget the magic we once knew as children.

If you’re interested to read it, here is the link to my review written in 2013. (Wow! It’s been so long. Time flies. 😄)

And, don’t hesitate to comment. I’d love to hear about the first lines of the books you are currently reading.

💗💗💗

Rachel

Pretty Pictures: Favorite Book Covers

The weekly link-up is hosted by The Book Chewers.

So, MV of The Book Chewers posted this linkup, and I just have to put myself out there about the topic. What is it? Book covers of course! Pretty, mysterious, lovely book covers.

We all have times when we don’t know what to read but the itch to get a brand new sparkly book from the bookstore just won’t go away. So you wander around thinking which one to pick up and take home. Sometimes I ask the bookstore people for recommendations but more often I go with my gut instinct. I pick up books by the blurb and, which brings me to the topic finally, book covers.

For me, book covers are more than just lovely pictures fronting books. They mean something, or at least they intended to. The five that I’ve picked mostly lean on to the former but one was just too fun not to include. Here they are:

Reached - Ally Condie

Reached (Matched Trilogy #3) by Ally Condie

I love all of the covers of theI trilogy but somehow this is my favorite among the  three. It’s a picture of a girl breaking out of the glass which encased her which pretty much tells you the gist Reach‘s plot.

Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy #2) by Veronica Roth

Another dystopian read, Insurgent‘s cover features a tree, also the symbol of one of the five factions in the series – Amity. Amity, as described in the book, is one of the essential factions because they sustain the city with food and produce, and that’s exactly what a tree does. It’s a beautiful correlation.

P.S. Plus points if you have the hard cover.

book cover

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Another cover with a tree on it. If you’ve read this novel, then you know that the whole tree allegory – that we can all grow even with all the scars and trauma. If you haven’t read Speak yet, then you better go get it now. It’s not heart-warming or anything but it will make you think.

Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Another cover I like because of the allegory behind it but also because, just like I am partial to covers with trees, I am also partial to covers featuring bodies of water.

Where'd You go, Bernadette

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

This one I picked because it’s fun. And look at all those different versions!

So, there are my five favorites. How about you? Sound off at The Book Chewers linkup and let the world know.

Book Review: Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”

Neil Gaiman / The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good,” internalized our unnamed narrator five pages into the story.

And that is what The Ocean at the End of the Lane is all about – recollections of a childhood long forgotten.

Neil Gaimans unnamed middle-aged narrator takes readers with him as he recalls events from his childhood. It all starts when he returns to his childhood hometown of Sussex, England for a funeral. He then finds himself driving down to the house at the end of the lane where he finds one of the Hempstock women who he thought to be his friend’s, Lettie’s mother but later turned out to be the Old Mrs. Hempstock, the grandmother. And as he sat by the small pond, the same pond Lettie called an ocean, the memories of the strange events when he was a 7-year old boy come rushing back to him.

Gaiman is a master of combining myth, fantasy and horror into one solid story. In American Gods, he took in a handful of pagan gods and put them into an Americana road trip. In Coraline, he created an utterly horrific world beyond a door. It is no wonder that he turned a simple 40-year old man’s recollections into something akin to the tales of the Brothers Grimm. It may have taken him eight years to come up with an adult novel but Gaiman never lost his touch. His narrative is more vivid than ever. Creating a balance between the real world and the magical realm is a hard task but Gaiman more than manages it. He is one of those few writers who can seamlessly go in and out of the imagined world within his story.

But even if it is similar to his previous works, there’s something that sets Ocean apart.

Neil Gaiman created a narrator that’s easy to relate with. His voice is clear, his experiences very much real. He was able to capture an essential part of the adult disenchantment and put it into his main character. A lot of times while reading the book I’ve imagined a 7-year old Neil Gaiman in place of the narrator. Well, I did read somewhere that he based some of the Ocean’s  protagonist’s qualities and experiences on his own childhood so I guess in a way it really is him there in the story.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is beautifully written. More than it’s magic-filled pages, what made me love the story more is its humanity. Gaiman did not give his readers a story made up happy,everything-is-all-good characters. Instead, he gave us characters that are flawed but truthful. And even though the ending he gave us was anything but reassuring, it was closer to what happens in real life. It is open to so many possibilities.

Young readers and adults alike will surely enjoy The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is definitely worth the eight-year wait.

Rating: 5/5