Neil Gaiman Week: Book 1, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

"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. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world." 

Neil Gaiman writes beautiful books. This is a well known fact generally accepted by most people. And after over ten novels, Gaiman’s style of writing fantasy that isn’t really fantasy at all is also well known. Gaiman writes novels about humans, and human nature, veiled in fun, elegant fantasy. 

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is this formula, but for the first time in a Gaiman book, it’s also vastly different. While reading TOATEOTL, I didn’t feel like I was in an adventure. I didn’t feel like a child being read to, and I didn’t feel like I had been completely transported to a different world, all feelings normal for a Gaiman book.

I felt mesmerized, like I was floating through a space where each scene was shown to me. I felt led, much like the narrator of the book was led, without really knowing what was going on. When you do finally see the whole story for what it is, I realized that it wasn’t what I expected. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is an ocean, not a pond.

Neil Gaiman has a knack for writing books for all ages, and when I started this book, I expected a book for all ages. It’s a beautiful novel, truly, wonderfully, beautiful. The reader is blindsided by the beauty of it. But I also found it was wondrously sad. Gaiman writes a child’s story that relaxes you at the start, and slowly, as it ages, becomes steadily more terrifying. Things don’t work out, things end. While reading, you think that it’s about the wonder of childhood and the perfection of it all, and then you step away and realize that this wonder is lost and buried in all of us. That every breath of this novel can’t last, simply because we’re adults and will eventually turn the last page. 

This book is about childhood and adulthood. It’s about the sacrifices made for us and the sacrifices that we make. It’s about how sometimes these sacrifices aren’t equal, and maybe when we least expect it, they are. It’s terrifying and beautiful, and I don’t think I wanted to be shown it all at once. It’s kind of like looking at the sun. 

But it’s also about magic, and the old, and witches that aren’t witches. It’s about birds and fleas, dads and babysitters. It’s about books, and friendships. At a time where I, and many readers, are finding themselves straddling the gap between adulthood and childhood, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane acts as both; a book to remind us of our childhood, and a friend to show us we’re not alone.

Recommendation: Read it. Read it. Read it. Read it. An absolute must read.


I bought this book at BOSWELL BOOKS on the East Side of Milwaukee. They are one of the only independent book stores in Milwaukee, and they are AMAZING. They are great to their customers, all the staff are fantastic book lovers, who give great conversations and recommendations. Support these guys, because THEY ARE WORTH IT! 

Boswell Books website: