Review | The Midnight Library : by Matt Haig

“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 a chance to undo your regrets?”

The Midnight Library

This is Nora Seed’s journey, but it is likely that you will read yourself into her reflections on a possible world in which she made different choices. Haig provides a unique experience for each individual reader. For Nora, her depression is so intense, with regret and despair, that her solution is to overdose . . . everything goes black . . . she wakes up in the Midnight Library and her journey begins. This is when Haig gives us a 101-level lecture in parallel universe theory, philosophy and quantum indeterminacy.

Strangely enough, Mrs. Elm, Nora’s former school librarian, is her guide and advisor in the Midnight Library. You might say that Mrs. Elm is Nora’s therapist and the library is the “couch”. Nora discovers that the books are portals to all the lives she could be living. Only by visiting these lives based on the reversals of her regretted decisions does Nora find for herself that she had to want the life she always thought she didn’t. Mrs. Elm becomes her coach/cheerleader . . . “Don’t give up! Don’t you dare give up, Nora Seed!”

Haig gives Nora a straight forward path from suicide to closure, from regret to acceptance.

“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worth-while.”

Every life contains millions of decisions, some big, some small. It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. Sartre once wrote:

“Life begins on the other side of despair.”

Jean Paul Sartre
The sky grows dark
The black over blue
Yet the stars still dare
To shin for you

page 274 of The Midnight Library

Read this book. I’m certain your journey will be unique. I can explain no further.

Published by Audrey Newhall

I am an avid reader and contributor to Penna Book Reviews

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