It’s one of the books you read that leaves you feeling a bit changed. Although stories can serve many purposes, sometimes you come across a book that inspires personal reflection and change. Matt Haig has done this through a work of fiction that somehow more clearly and with greater impact gives people a sense of light and hope.
The deeply witty and elegantly structured story with a flawed and relatable character at its heart makes The Midnight Library so easily convey a vital message about the importance of life and find it on a personal level. It’s so much easier to connect with content like this, written simply and honestly from the perspective of someone who truly understands.
Nora Seed is a woman whose life seems to be falling apart. She struggled with discontent, worries that she had taken all the wrong paths in life, and struggled with worsening depression for quite some time until one day she reached breaking point.
Life’s major struggles may have begun, but it’s the various little things she doesn’t know that kept her going — like giving piano lessons and taking medicine for an elderly neighbor — that makes her question her. his sense of purpose. It is when her cat dies that she realizes she cannot bear the almost constant pain and numbness of an unsatisfied life and makes the decision to end it. But the universe has another plan.
She wakes up in a modified version of her school library with the librarian who has always been kind to her. In Nora’s attempt, she had found herself in the space between life and death, a record of all the possible lives she could have lived had she made a different decision represented by a book in the library.
Now it’s up to Nora to consider her biggest regrets, the choices she thinks would have made her life better if they had been different, and try life in those alternatives by opening their corresponding book. The catch is that she can stay in each one for as long as she wants, but once she gets to a point of sheer disappointment, the realization that this isn’t life for her, she doesn’t can’t go back.
The story follows her on her journey through each of these lifetimes and all the different versions of herself.
Despite the emotional struggle she went through, this is a book that kept me laughing and crying throughout. Whether it’s opening the pub her ex-husband dreamed of owning with her, moving to Australia with her best friend, or getting involved in the band she once had with her brother, the character of Nora brings humanity and joy to themes of depression and regret.
The hint of magic in this book is cleverly handled and emphasizes the human will to survive that can continue to conquer even the toughest times. For that, I would recommend The Midnight Library to everyone as the kind of book that can change you.