The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Published: September 29, 2020
Format: Hardback (Personal copy)
Tags: Fiction, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Mental-Illness
| Synopsis from the Publisher |
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
Keywords to describe this book: thoughtful, plot-driven, contemporary
This book is very much a PSA on suicide and how life is worth living, how it’s all a matter of perspective. I really connected with this idea and I think the author handles suicide very well, doesn’t get too preachy, and keeps the overall tone of the book light, despite it being about such a heavy subject.
This story focuses on Nora, a young British woman who has basically hit rock-bottom, so she feels. She feels estranged from her brother, she has no immediate friends, she loses her job, and her cat dies. She wants to die. But then she finds herself in the Midnight Library, a place where she is given the opportunity to try living all the many infinite lives that she exists in (parallel universes, essentially). She sets out on a journey to see if she can find a life worth living.
Nora is a very interesting character. She isn’t immediately likeable, but she is funny and has an interesting perspective on life due to her interest in philosophy. The book is full of her musings on different philosophers’ takes on life, love, and the nature of being. Nora is one of those characters that you can see develop over the course of the novel, but she is still kept a bit neutral, a bit generic. I think this is so that the reader can see themselves in her place, because this book is very much a story-version of an argument to live your life, to not choose suicide. Nora isn’t meant to be this special, highly individual character. She represents anyone who is in her position, who is struggling.
I really appreciate Haig’s exploration of depression and how to find ways to get more perspective on your situation, which can make all the difference in choosing to live, to keep fighting. This book could be preachy or overly dark, but Haig manages to strike a very good balance between light, humorous moments with moments of serious discussion. This book is very accessible, very readable, and many will find it compelling enough to be a page-turner. The moments where philosophy is discussed provide a lot of food for thought that I really enjoyed. It’s like an intro to philosophy without feeling overbearing.
Ultimately, I enjoyed reading this book. It’s very simple, easy to read. I would consider it the perfect “palate cleanser” or a book to help break up a readers’ block period. I really enjoyed the “magic” in this magical realism story. Haig does some really great work with handling a subject like suicide with such a delicate and caring hand. I haven’t read too many books that deal with mental health in quite the same way as this book and I think that it’s a very hopeful read, despite being about such a difficult subject. I would definitely recommend it, as it’s short and the writing style is very open and accessible. The characters are interesting and I enjoy how philosophical ideas were sprinkled throughout and talked about in a very easy-to-understand way.
My rating: Definitely Worth the Read
Thoughts & Thanks!
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