"I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible."
This is a book that teaches us that we should never stop dreaming, that we should never stop seeing oceans in ponds and that we should never, ever, stop seeing better worlds in the things we read.
The pond that was an ocean bespeaks the level of optimism that is inherent with childhood dreams. Everything seems better. Everything seems bigger and grander. Imagination makes the ordinary seem extraordinary and fantastic. I have no idea what elements were fantasy within the novel. It could even be magical realism or a child's interpretation and exaggeration of real life events. Part of me felt like it was based on real things but distorted and twisted to evoke the sense of unfamiliarity a child has in an adult world.
But to perpetually see the world through child eyes would be a boon:
"I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy."
It's a book for the lost, for the social pariahs who do not fit in with normal society. It is a book for those who would rather spend their days reading than interacting with the human race. Humans are always disappointing, books are not. And our little hero knows this so he concocts his own friends and draws upon the lessons he learnt through reading. In this regard it reminded me of Coraline. It's a book about an odd child who dreams of something a little bit better than the reality they experience.
The friend he meets becomes his guardian against the forces that would destroy him and his family. She becomes a doorway into understanding an entirely new world. In this I saw a lonely child longing for something he didn't have, a connection with someone who would hold him up when the days become their darkest. In The Ocean at the End of Lane anything is possible as a child's dreams and memories propel the narrative forward.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a truly fantastic book in every regard. I absolutely loved it.
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