Book Club: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
No, I know this is out of left field. I know.
Yup, another Neil Gaiman. He was our Shda3wa book club cherry popper, and he did not disappoint, so it's only right that we go back in for seconds.
We had originally intended to read This is Your Brain on Music, and by golly we gave it our best shot, but the group decided that it was more of a textbook read than an actual book read. Democracy wins in Shda3wa so we went ahead and randomly chose a new book from our list:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
And guess what? It was an awesome choice. This was definitely a significantly easier read than our first reading choice. In fact, it was pretty much smooth sailing throughout. Neil Gaiman's notoriety as an iconic writer is under no dispute, but it's completely something else to actually read his work - to see why Neil Gaiman is Neil Gaiman. And boy is he Neil Gaiman.
Where the story starts and where it ends are on two completely different worlds. You start off thinking that the plot is going one way, the story of the protagonist's childhood, but then Gaiman slowly starts planting unexpected elements within the first three chapters, which makes you realize there's a new direction coming but it still doesn't stop you from being taken completely aback by the shift into dark and mature plot points. It's one of the rare times when a writer plays so delicately and beautifully between childhood and adult themes in one unified plot. Gaiman establishes an immediately likeable seven year-old protagonist in a relatable setting, while creating an entire universe around him that is both fascinating and fulfilling.
Stylistically, Gaiman bounces back and forth between describing things only the way a child could - with such on-the-nose simplicity that you wonder why you didn't think of it that way before, and the reluctance of an adult mind, who's unsure of the accuracy of his retelling.
I could go on but even I'm getting tired of hearing myself rave about Neil Gaiman and how wonderfully magical this book is. The only real complaint that anyone in the group had was that we didn't get enough. He built and set up something that seems so complex and alluring, but the story ended before we could get our fix. We just want more.
Simply put, this is a great novel that is definitely worth adding to your to-read list - whether you want to explore Gaiman's work or want a piece of fiction that has just the right amount of light and heavy content.
In lieu of a "spoilerful" review section, I'm simply going to present five of our favorite quotes from the book - completely out of context, of course, to give you an idea of what we mean when we gush about Neil Gaiman and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I made sure that the quotes don't give anything away, but feel free to skip this if quotes make you angry, like how trailers make me angry:
"I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else."
"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.
"I helped her put the flowers into the vases, and she asked my opinion on where to put the vases in the kitchen. We placed the vases where I suggested, and I felt wonderfully important."
"By the fireplace, the kitten lapped at a saucer of creamy milk, and purred so loudly I could hear it across the room. I wished I could purr too. I would have purred then."
"'I love my ocean,' Lettie said, and I knew our time by the pond was done. 'It’s just pretending, though,' I told her, feeling like I was letting childhood down by admitting it."
TL;DR Our Review
Bader: 4.5 Stars
Noor: 4.5 Stars
Reem: 4.5 Stars
ADD IT TO YOUR READING LIST!
(HALF OF) AUGUST BOOK CLUB PICK:
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz (2012)
- Short Stories; Hispanic; Fiction
THANKS FOR READING IF YOU ACTUALLY READ EVERYTHING!
Let us know what you think. Do you hate us? Do you disagree with every single thing I said? TELL ME.
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