Nora Seed has hit an all-time low. After losing her cat, her job, and is full of regret, she takes her own life. However, she suddenly finds herself in the Midnight Library – a point between life and death – and learns that she has an opportunity to live as if she had done things differently. She had felt like she had let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.
“Because, Nora, sometimes the only way to learn is to live.”
The concept of ‘The Midnight Library’ is wonderful, and Haig executes it brilliantly. How different could life be if we made another choice? How could one decision change the lives of the people around us? And, is there any such thing as a perfect life? In one life Nora is an internationally famous rock star. In another, she works as a scientist in sub-zero temperatures in the Norwegian archipelago. She is an Olympic athlete, a vegan powerlifter, rich, poor: the possibilities are infinite. Throughout it all, Haig seamlessly interjects magic into the most prosaic of details.
Furthermore, in his bestselling memoir ‘Reasons to Stay Alive‘, Haig chronicled the personal anxiety and depression he experienced which lead him to consider taking his own life. In ‘The Midnight Library’, he is just as unflinching in his depiction of depression. He seamlessly articulates how debilitating it can be, how it can feel like you’re stuck in a black hole. And yet, his writing never feels dismal. Rather, he counterbalances sombre moments with a hopeful tone and a touch of humour. While sometimes Nora’s monologues were repetitive, the meaning was clear: even when you feel like you’re trapped, there is always a way out of the darkness.
There’s so much more to unpack in this book. From ideas around climate change and the connection between ourselves and the world to familial relationships, fame, and the nature of happiness. Matt Haig tackles so many themes with such grace: a reminder to live life to the fullest and appreciate every moment, even the hard ones. As Nora tries on the many shoes of her infinite lives, we see how making space for regrets is one step towards softening their hold over us. We can have regrets without being their prisoner.
Overall, ‘The Midnight Library’ is a truly inspiring story that, yes, is full of hurt and despair, but also love and transformation. Haig eloquently articulates the consuming nature of depression for those who find that words escape them. As with ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, I’m so grateful for this book and vouch that everyone should read it. The only way to learn is to live.
Pre-order ‘The Midnight Library here!‘
Thank you Canongate and NetGalley for my gifted eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Read my review of ‘The Dutch House’ here.