Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Publication Date: 2020
Publisher: Canongate Books
Format: Paperback|288 pages
The Midnight Library is a heart-breaking book so engrossing that one cannot stop reading it. The main character ends up after a suicide attempt in a library that is magical: it has a limitless number of books that allows Nora to try all the lives she could have lived in order to see how her life would have turned out if her decision were different. There, in the midnight library, she is helped by the only person who has helped her when she was a child, who has made a difference in her life: the school librarian, Mrs. Elm. The novel, however, is not only about Nora Seed who sees herself as a failure, but rather about the endless possibilities life holds for all of us, about regrets and insecurities.
Although I finished the book few days ago, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it as it explores one of my favourite themes: pain, regrets and self hatred slowly turning into admiration towards humanity, hope and will to live. I found the idea of entering the midnight library between life and death quite unique as I haven’t read any novel revolving around a similar concept. Matt Haig not only creates a world where fantasy is mixed with philosophic elements, Quantum physics and literature, but forces the readers to ask themselves what is the best life? what makes life worth living? where or when am I the happiest version of myself? More than that, he builds up a meaningful and heart wrenching story about progress, healing and compassion towards others, but firstly towards ourselves.
There are many versions of Nora Seed, but in every life she tries she realises she is always the same person looking for something that can bring her happiness. Regardless of how many lives she tries, she always ends up unsatisfied because, although she might be happier, she doesn’t have what she needs, which is to love herself and allow herself to be loved. Nora Seed definitely became one of my favourite characters, alongside with Anne Shirley Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and Renée Michel from The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Haig contoured the protagonist in such a manner that I nearly felt her fragility and her emotions, which is exactly what I am looking for when reading a book: a real character that I can sympathize with and feel a connection with. Besides, the relevance of the characters and the lightness in the writing style makes the novel easy to stay with.
The Midnight Library is definitely one of the novels that force the reader to wonder what could have been different if they were given the opportunity to choose from an infinite number of books, each one of them representing a different life. It is a thought provoking story, a must read that made me believe I actually can do so much in my life and learn from mistakes instead of constantly regretting them and turning them into unnecessary burdens as they cannot be undone. I can only recommend it from the core of my heart to everyone looking for a different perspective about life.