First off, love that cover. Just screams awesome fantasy no? Moving along, I’ve heard about this novel for AGES, and finally decided to pick it up. It was smaller then I was expecting, but that doesn’t mean it was lacking in content. I really enjoyed this quick read. It was face paced, curious, and made the reader think-which is always good.
Quick Summary: Returning to his hometown for a funeral, our protagonist (whose name is never mentioned, only a childhood nickname is in reference to him), finds himself travelling down a road to an old farmhouse. This is where he met a most unusual girl named Lettie who lived with her mother and grandmother. Lettie was not like other girls sounding and acting much more grown up then her eleven years, and our solitary protagonist is drawn into a strange friendship. Upon walking to the pond, forgotten memories bubble up and his time with Lettie is once again remember-the good and the bad.
In the beginning of the story we are introduced the the main protagonist as an adult, where he goes to visit his childhood friend’s home after attending a funeral, avoiding the reception for a moment. The rest of the book is pretty much of the memories he had of his childhood during the time he met the strange older girl who said her pond was an ocean. I didn’t even notice till halfway through the book that the protagonists name had yet to be mentioned. I think it is a cool concept, since it is from his memory he recalls it without his own name-how often do we refer to our name when thinking of ourselves? Through this story you wonder if he is a little boy with an overactive imagination, as well as Lettie, or if the strange things that occur really is fantasy come to life.
Many times the choices and thoughts of the boy truly come off as something a seven year old would think. For example: 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. (The Ocean at the End of the Lane)
If you stop and think about it, how often is this true. Adults stick to the easy and direct path while walking through a wood or field. Such things don’t always occur to children who find the short route, the shortcuts not caring if it is between dirty bushes or long grass. I love phrases like this that are all through the book. Lettie has some good ones too, though hers are adult and mysterious wisdom, of things strange and larger then the protagonist normally thinks about. Sometimes it made me nostalgic after a certain passage remembering my own childhood and missing parts of it.
The most developed characters are the protag., Lettie, her family, and Ursula who you meet later and I won’t spoil. His parents and sisters have some personality and character, but they are not the focus of the story, more like extras or background characters that add to the story but don’t fully make it. You learn of the protags hopes, dreams, fears, and how he grew after his friendship with Lettie.
The ending was well wrapped up too, not leaving too many loose ends but definitely a few questions. It flows back into the present of his adulthood and how he feels about the memories he had forgotten for so long. It leaves you with a bit of magick and mystery, feeling sad and hopeful for the protag. Overall a good book for a nice quick read, at times feeling more YA then adult fiction, but I’m not so picky to complain about that.