“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.” — Lettie Hempstock, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”
Coming from a funeral, a middle-aged man returns to his hometown. As he drives past his old house that barely sparks a memory, he finds himself at the end of the lane. He walks to the pond near the Hempstock’s farm. As he sits and recollects why he is there and what it means to be back at the farm, he remembers everything.
Lettie Hempstock, the girl who called the pond an ocean. The impossible was always possible with her. She was the reason he was sitting there beside the pond today. The man who is never given a name through the entirety of the book recalls his childhood friend and the alarming truth that rests within his childhood.
Oftentimes, adulthood can block out the sincerity of the past. Oftentimes, childhood is a fabrication of the truths we hold dear. Neil Gaiman explores the differences between childhood and adulthood and what it means to shelter the dark truths that prevail over the innocence of youth.
As the middle-aged man recollects all that he knew to be true, he is horrified by what he remembers. This novel reveals a past too dark and dangerous for a young boy to endure. As he sits, this man ponders the truths that define humanity and the evocative past he reminisces.