“Nobody 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.’
I said, ‘Are you a monster? Like Ursula Monkton?’
Lettie threw a pebble into the pond. ‘I don’t think so,’ she said. ‘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 people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.’
I said, ‘People should be scared of Ursula Monkton.’
‘P’raps. What do you think Ursula Monkton is scared of?’
‘Dunno. Why do you think she’s scared of anything? She’s a grown-up, isn’t she? Grown-ups and monsters aren’t scared of things.’
Oh, monsters are scared,” said Lettie. “That’s why they’re monsters. And as for grown-ups…’ She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, ‘I’m going to tell you something important. 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. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral, and is drawn back to the farm down the road from where he lived. Though his house is long gone, the farm remains. The same farm where, when he was seven, he met a curious and interesting little girl, Lettie, and her mother and grandmother. He sits the pond, the-pond-that-was-an-ocean) and his pushed away memories come flooding back. Memories that are too frightening and unbelievable to have ever happened to anyone, much less him.
As he draws on the memories from his childhood to figure out what exactly happened to him, the man deals with how those memories affected him, his childhood, and how he has been shaped as an adult.
I will be honest and say my preliminary opinion of this was “Eh, this was a good book, but it doesn’t draw me.” However, the more I’ve thought on it and gone back to it, the more it appeals to me. I had a very rough summer this year. The past six months of my life have been the most trying of my life, mentally. I read this book before I came into all this trouble, and I didn’t understand. I know that this is eye-rolling inducing, but I honestly have come out on the other side of these months understanding some of the lessons in this book better. It’s a rough and magical read. The content is troublesome, very dark, but it’s woven into a starry magical world of possibilities. I recommend it to anyone over the age of 15 or 16, probably. There’s strong language and strong imagery that really isn’t suitable for younger eyes.
I think if you enjoyed the horror movie, Oculus, you’d really enjoy this book. They both deal with children who’ve had something horrific happen to them as children, only to be told that what they remember isn’t what happened at all. They both also feature a brother and sister who are close but not close and end up slightly estranged due to the events that occur when they’re young. The movie is okay, not my favorite horror movie ever, but it had the advantage of Karen Gillian, and I’m a hardcore Doctor Who fan and she was one of my favorite companions for her spunkiness (and her Rory. I loved Rory and his steadfast devotion). The book is by far a better story than Oculus so even if you weren’t a fan of it, give The Ocean at the End of the Lane a try. And since I have a lot of favorite moments in the book, please indulge me with providing a few more…
“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”
“Books were safer than other people anyway.”
“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.”
“Different people remember things differently, and you’ll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not.”
“Adults should not weep, I knew. They did not have mothers who would comfort them.”
“Small children believe themselves to be gods, or some of them do, and they can only be satisfied when the rest of the world goes along with their way of seeing things.”
“I loved to sleep with the window open. Rainy nights were the best of all: I would open the window and put my head on the pillow and close my eyes and feel the wind on my face and listen to the trees sway and creak.”
“Adults follow paths. Children explore.”
This is where I would post what next week’s this and that post will be, but I have that on my phone, which is charging in the living room at the end of the hall, which feels like it’s miles long right now. I’m currently typing this from my warm and cushy bed, with Netflix on in the background and it’s all too comfy to get up and check my phone. Forgive my laziness, ha. I will post my This and That choice on my Facebook page sometime tomorrow morning.
I’m currently actively reading All the Missing Girls and I *think* I have some of the ending figured out, but I will have to see…I’m also reading The Gunslinger with my husband, and it’s been pretty good, but slow going since he’s working on his thesis and I’m starting my B block classes this week (World History and Lifetime Health and Wellness…only one of those is exciting to me, ha). I’m also passively reading You Don’t Know Me but I Know You. I will more actively read it once I’ve finished Girls. What are you guys up to? Any recommendations for my TBR list? Let me know!