How old were you when you first realized there was no safety net? When your parents' faults started to come clear and the things you knew turned out to be less solid than you'd assumed?
This first flirtation with the changing nature of reality comes at different times to each of us. In this heartbreaking novella from Neil Gaiman, it comes to a story-loving 7-year-old boy, content with his rich inner life until dark outside forces come knocking on his door.
Joining forces with 11-year-old Lettie and her mysterious family at the end of the lane, our hero enters a world that is equal parts beautiful fantasy and harsh reality. He's afraid, but he faces the challenges bravely, and makes the hard choices some adults never have the courage to make. For instance, when some rough stuff happens to this kid at the hands of his father, he's later given the chance to erase the memories, but chooses not to. Would you make the same choice as an adult?
Ocean, to me, is all about the things children have access to that adults either forget or ignore. I'm pretty sure there was real magic when I was 7, and I catch glimpses of it now, but it always fades away.
Gaiman makes it possible to recapture some of that magic, and it's a great comfort to know it's a shared experience, this shape-shifting through life.