The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Genre: Fiction / Science Fiction
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Nora doesn’t want to live. It’s not complicated: she has experienced enough to know that her life has been a complete and utter waste. Thinking upon all her mistakes, the decisions she made and the ones she didn’t, she knows there is nothing left for her in the world. When she finally acts on this knowing, however, she didn’t expect to end up in a library.
The Midnight Library is a place that can show her every regret, but also every possibility and it is up to Nora to decide whether she wants to say – in her life or another.
I think the question of “what if ______?” is universal because despite all wanting to live without regrets or making peace with the unknown details of the future we allow such an intrusive question to linger with every decision. Despite hours of wondering and regretting every decision we’ve ever made there is rarely an answer and while Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library doesn’t offer a strict answer, it does explore the depths of this question and reveals the amazing possibilities we have in our choices and our decisions. Nora is incredibly cynical and straight forward to the point of comedy and there is no doubt that she wants to die. While this blunt self-hatred can be offsetting it is layered with laughter and warmth and humor which makes it relatable and revealing to the reader. I found myself laughing as Haig illustrated the undeniable truth that our own expectations and perceptions of life do not align with those of reality. It is a sarcastic story but full of truth when Nora goes through every major possible alternative life and realizes that it is not the differences in choices which decide her happiness but her perception of them. Every life she visited proved disappointing and the idea of happiness – of fame or wealth or marriage – came with its own disappointments. A sunny life in Australia had hidden depth and a life of fame proved unstable. The Midnight Library was a book that made me laugh and cry and think; it was straight-forward but also heart-warming and was universally relatable. I haven’t read a book that so easily changed my perspective without the messy connotations of allegories or metaphors. Matt Haig presents a direct look at life and our perception of happiness, choices, and possibility and it is a book I would strongly recommend to anyone who has ever thought “what if _______”.