Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well. Friday means another review, and this time, I’m reviewing The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
TRIGGER WARNING: The Midnight Library includes certain themes readers may find uncomfortable, such as suicide and mental illness. Discretion is advised.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig was first published in August 2020 by Canongate Books and is 304 pages long.
Upon attempting to take her own life, a young woman named Nora Seed finds herself in a library containing all possible versions of her life. Throughout the story, she is able to try on all the lives she could have ended up living.
35-year-old Nora is struggling with her mental health, and in the book’s first lines, we learn that she will attempt to take her own life. She is depressed and lonely and spends her life looking for approval from those she cares about while worrying about disappointing them.
Inevitably, Nora does attempt to end her life, only to find herself in The Midnight Library, where she gets to experience her life as it would have been had she not made certain decisions.
Along the way, we see her come to learn some important and valuable lessons about life and living, as well as some about herself and the people she loves. Mostly she discovers that life isn’t what she thought it was and that regrets only hold you back.
I found myself relating a lot to Nora and her struggles, and I consider her an important character in modern literature. There are people across the globe who will benefit from reading about her and her own preconceived ideas about what life is ‘supposed to be’. We all think we know how life is meant to go, and we all know that feeling when nothing seems to be going to plan.
Mrs Elm is a kindly school librarian whom Nora befriends as a teenager. She is very kind to Nora and helps her think about her life and examine and question the idea that there is only one path to success. Mrs Elm acts as a mentor to Nora when she’s young, and then when Nora meets a younger version of her later on in The Midnight Library, she serves as a guide as Nora gets to experience her unlived lives.
Joe is Nora’s estranged older brother, and the two of them were once in a band together until Nora declined to pursue a record deal, for which he has resentment toward her. He struggles with alcoholism, too, which also impacts their relationship.
Matt Haig’s books are always easy and enjoyable to read, and this one is no exception, picking you up and not letting you go until the end. The story’s powerful themes of struggling with mental health and how every single decision we make affects our lives are significant – especially in this day and age when the world is becoming ever-increasingly stressful.
Matt writes characters in such a beautiful and realistic way; each could be someone you know, and even though the book is not about him personally, you can tell there’s much of him imbued within it. Having read The comfort Book, I know that Matt has had his own struggles with mental illness, which he is honest and open about. You can tell, for instance, that the character of Nora was written with a great insight into what it’s like to struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
The Midnight Library is a fantastic book with a terrific story and wonderfully drawn characters, and although it is rather deep regarding its subject matter, it is wonderfully handled.
I enjoyed the story very much and could hardly put it down, and I’d recommend it to Matt Haig fans, as well as those who may experience more difficult days dealing with their mental health. At least it made me feel a little better about life. It also got me wondering what my ‘Midnight Library’ would be, and I think I’d like to believe that it’s a massive archive of old-style photo albums or, perhaps, an old video store like Hugo, one of the characters Nora meets in her life as a glaciologist in the Arctic.
What would yous be?
As someone who has struggled with my mental health, I found Nora and her story to be very relatable, and who among us hasn’t ever wondered, what if…?
I am giving this book an 8/10.
Have you read The Midnight Library? What did you think of it?
As always, thanks for spending your time with me today!
Until next time,
© 2023 GLT
Categories: Book Reviews, Reading
I enjoyed reading this story. Being with Nora as she explored the Midnight Library was enlightening for me too!
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I love Matt Haig’s stories, they’re always brilliant.