Nora wants to die. She tries to die. But she ends up in a library at midnight.
It’s not a typical library though. Sure there are shelves. They’re lined with books. There’s even a librarian.
But all of the books are about her. Every book is a life she could have lived. Every version of herself. Every possible outcome of her story.
And now (if she doesn’t die first) she has a chance to choose a new version of her life to live in. She can try out the different lives and determine what she does and doesn’t want. It’s a chance to resolve her regrets and move on to a happier existence. Eventually, she’ll find the right life and slowly forget she ever went to the midnight library.
But does Nora actually know what she wants in life? Does she regret not marrying that man, or was that the right call? What if keeping a loved one alive means another has passed? Should she have been a musician or an athlete? Are the risks worth the rewards in these alternate lives?
In the end, she’ll have to decide what was actually so wrong in her first life that she was ready for it all to be over. Then maybe she’ll be happy.
I really enjoyed The Midnight Library and I actually read it very quickly. It was thought-provoking.
I know it got a lot of hype when it was first released but then had mixed reviews after a while. But I enjoyed this book and I got a lot out of it.
Matt Haig makes his readers question so much about themselves through the safety of a fictional character. I know I had a few moments where I stopped and thought about my own life in a very real sense. There’s a lot to unpack here. He’s almost as much a psychiatrist as a writer.
Be prepared to encounter suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, and ideations of death. This book might not be appropriate for some readers. On the other hand, if you have dealt with mental health concerns, this could be a great book to read with the help of a trusted friend or family member. It shows there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t need to end your life to make a change.
If you need help, or just want to talk, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website.
“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desireable 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 worthwhile.”–The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
Essentially, Nora learns that correcting one ‘mistake’ doesn’t fix everything; in fact, it often makes things worse. Things that seemed like regrets at the time were actually positive experiences. There’s no one right way to live a life, but the one you have is the best one. She is fragile throughout the book and shows only limited growth. She really has to have things shoved in her face to see the consequences of her actions. But that’s ok. She is learning by living. And everyone moves at their own pace.
The writing was simple and to the point. Not too showy, not too philosophical, not too over the top. It simply got me thinking about my own life and why things worked out the way they did.
It made me think of all of the positive things in life that I’m grateful for and all the experiences I have yet to live. It can be a bit upsetting at first to watch Nora’s life falling apart. But the ending, while predictable, will make things feel complete.
Best part: the message. There is meaning in the littlest things in life. Appreciate them.
Worst part: Nora’s experiences. She’s lived through some bad things that are of course just part of life, but they are pretty sad. This isn’t really a happy book for the large majority of it.
Overall, I like the book and would recommend it to certain friends.