The Ocean at the Bottom of the Lane Neil Gaiman
Over a month after reading this I still have no real idea of what this book was about or what I thought of it. But I’m still pondering it. That has to mean something, surely?!
What I’m fairly sure is that this is a celebration and exploration of childhood. Maybe every parent should read it, probably when you little ones aren’t toddlers but are still inhabiting the magical world only they can create.
‘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 might not get Gaiman’s full story but this I got. Way too often I’m that adult, even when I wish I wasn’t. Sad hey?! Such a beautiful point, totally stuck in my mind and effortlessly made.
‘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. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.’
The thought that all adults are just large sized kids both charms and chills me. Do I agree? I’m not sure, the insides of most adults probably reflect the experiences of their time on earth. Good or bad experiences basic maths says that adults have a hell of a lot more than the average 6 year old. But it’s a truth that little children think that adults always know what to do and are never scared. It’s what makes being a teenager a scary experience.
What I loved about this book was the impact that a few words can have. Neil Gaiman’s ability to craft a few words into a memorable quote is enviable. I guess I should talk about the relationships and speculate about Lettie’s fate, but you know what I loved most were the quotes, so I’d rather share a few of my favourites.
‘I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else’
“Nobody actually looks like what they really are on the inside. You don’t. I don’t. People are much more complicated than that. It’s true of everybody.”
All monsters are scared. That’s why they’re monsters.”
“And did I pass?”
The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk.
On my left the younger woman said,
“You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”
And there are plenty more where they came from, go and find out for yourself!