"Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good." There are things that surface that take us by surprise and, at the same time, wash over us like a warm stream of water, transfixing, and transporting us to moments we thought were lost. Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is a book that will prod your conscience, and poke at your recollections of the very moments you began to see that life was more complex, more complicated, and scarier than you thought it could be.
"Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things that people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things that people should be scared of, but they aren't."
I can go on quoting pieces of prose that punctured where I stood on the periphery of Gaiman fans, or I can advise you to check out a copy and join the library's book group on Sept. 11 at 10:30 a.m. when we get together to talk about it. Most likely, we'll be talking about us. Because that's what happens when you read a book like this. You want to talk about how it has affected you, how it brought back your own childhood demons. How you once believed in magic. And, goodness and loyalty, and the moment you first experienced betrayal. You'll want to talk about how you thought if you just kept spinning in a circle, you would turn into not Lynda Carter, but Wonder Woman, herself.
After reading this Gaiman, I may give spinning another try. It's too easy to lose, but as he writes, "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 . . . The truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world."
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