Monday, October 5, 2020

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig


I absolutely loved this book. It delivers a pretty simple message. We are so preoccupied with the "what ifs" and the "If onlys" that we sometimes forget to look at the lives we have and understand the gift they are-and continue to be as our lives unfold. Unfold in a way that should continually amaze us, but instead sends us sometimes into unhappy places. Has us trying to live a life that will make others happy, and not really make us happy. 

This is Nora Seed. She's thirty-five, single, and works in a music store. She's depressed a lot and takes anti-depressants to get through her days. Her parents are dead and her older brother is very distant. The final straw is finding her cat dead. She realizes her life is empty of love and really anyone caring about her, so she decides she's done and drinks a bottle of wine and take a bunch of pills. 

End of story, right? Kind of gloomy, you think? Nope. Nora wakes up in an amazing place: a library. It's a library like she's never seen, and only one other person is in it: her old school librarian Mrs. Elm. The one person who, when Nora needed it the most, showed her kindness. Mrs. Elm explains to Nora that she's in an in-beween place; a sort of holding spot for those who are on the cusp of dying. This is one last chance to read her book of regrets, and then choose a life to live-a life that may help Nora erase some of her life regrets. And if that life doesn't fix it, Nora can leave it and find herself back in the library to try again with another life book. Endless possibilities. 

At first, Nora is caught up in the what could have been lives: an Olympic swimmer, the lead singer in a famous rock band-all aspects of herself that could have been, if only she'd pursued her natural talents. However, each life quickly reveals the not so great parts to Nora, and she finds herself returning to the Midnight library over and over. It's an interesting theory about multiple lives all operating in parallel universes; thousands of you living thousands of different lives-all because you made a few different choices. All those little choices add up to drastically different lives--not only for Nora, but for all the people she knows.

Now it's up to Nora to see if she can find that one life that is the one she always wanted. If she finds it, can she stay there? What of her old life, the one she was so ready to leave? 

I've followed Matt Haig on Twitter and understand he's battled with depression. It clearly shows in the novel. Nora is someone we all know; that one person who slips through the cracks. We're so busy we don't pay attention. So busy making sure we do all the right things. But the message here is about potential. Realizing we have potential to do so many wonderful things in life. Embracing all the messiness of life. Instead of worrying about about what everyone else is doing, focus on yourself. Look at your own potential-explore and develop your talents. Revel in the possibilities. 

This was a quick read, but an impactful one. Nora will stay with me for a long time. A pick me up novel that arrived in my hands at just the right time. 

Rating: 5/6 for a powerful look at life, choices, regrets, and potential. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.