The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
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 summary)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Not fair, Mr. Gaiman. Not fair at all. How could you write a novel like this in 12 pt font and finish it in 180 pages? It’s injustice. It’s not right to start with a middle-aged, not-so-interesting man then make the story about his perfectly imperfect 7-year-old self who loves the rain on his face when he’s sleeping and doesn’t have guests on his birthday because he loves books.
I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.
You should know better than to make your book cover sound like a mystery thriller and set the first few chapters for a murder scene, only to suddenly throw me into a world reminiscent of Bod’s and Coraline’s.
It’s unfair to make me fall in love with three kickass heroines and make them so human even though we both know they aren’t. It’s not proper to remind me how it’s been a long time since I escaped into books the way that ‘Handsome George’ always does, how it’s been a long time since I heard myself laugh at something I read in a book, and how books help me deal with my monsters too. It’s not fair to write an adult book about children just because you can so cleverly and magically show violence, mistrust, and deceit through a child’s eyes.
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.
Not fair, Mr. Gaiman. Not fair at all to write a book that excited and broke my heart in one night. You better write another book soon.