This lyrical fantasy for adults has a down to earth “real” feel to it, despite some of the mystery in it. The novel is about memory and surviving a difficult childhood. Sometimes when children experience darkness, it is fantasy that pulls them out into the light. Gaiman says it well, “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.” p. 199.
The story line is simple enough and best discovered during the reading. The author himself says ‘Ocean’ is an overgrown short story. I read it easily in a day. A few things I learned/liked:
- We all need someone to believe in and trust.
- We all need someone to save us.
- Two people will never remember the same event in exactly the same way.
- There are some things we will never understand, like why people take a vegetable like raw peas that taste great and put them in tins and boil them so they become disgusting.
There’s a legend in book circles that you can read “Page 69” as a judge of whether you’ll like a book or not. By then the set up has taken place, the characters have been introduced and the author should have reached his representative stride in terms of writing style. Well, the jury is still out on whether the “Page 69 Test” works (try it out for yourself!), but in this book I coincidentally (or not) found a beautiful quote on page 69 which sums the book up well.
“I like myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
Neil Gaiman has written a number of award winning children’s books including The Graveyard Book, Coraline, and Anansi Boys.