BOOK REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY BY MATT HAIG

Spoilers ahead

TW: mental health/suicide

I picked up The Midnight Library as part of the ‘Gals who Graduate’ book club in a bid to get myself reading more books that I wouldn’t necessarily try out otherwise.

Despite the heavy subjects of mental health and suicide prevalent throughout this book, I found it surprisingly easy to read, which is very unusual for me. I found Haig’s writing style incredibly easy to digest, and the story flowed from start to finish. At times, myself and others found sections of the book to be somewhat repetitive; however, please don’t let this deter you as the storyline itself (especially the ending) and themes are fantastic.

This is a story about enlightenment and grasping the true value/potential that life has to offer. It also puts into question what you would consider to be a ‘good’ or ‘happy’ life; how would you personally define this?

Nora Seed, the protagonist, hates her life and the choices she has made to get her to where she is today. Consumed with regret, she attempts suicide very early on in the book and is consequently taken to the Midnight Library (the place between life and death, projected by Nora’s unconscious mind) where she is faced with countless shelves of books representing each of the lives she could have lived had she made certain choices differently. She is given the chance to pick out some of these books and live these other lives in search of the perfect existence, where she is hoping to live out the rest of her days.

She eventually realises that all lives have positives and negatives; none of those other lives she imagined are as perfect as she previously thought, despite them being based off of the seemingly correct choices that she didn’t make in her true life. It hits her that she no longer wants to die and that she very much wants to live. More importantly, she wants to live her true life, with a new-found awareness of the potential her life holds, no matter the ups and downs.

As said previously, I enjoyed how the book puts into question the true value of life. Nora experienced many lives via the Midnight Library that she believed would be better than her true life for a number of reasons including fame, success, ’better’ relationships and so on, but in reality these expectations turned out to be quite the opposite.

What would you consider to be a ‘good’ or ‘happy’ life? One with fame, fortune, adventure, friends and family, potential?

I, and many others, love how this book makes you want to ‘live’ life, and essentially run out the door appreciate all of the little things. I also found that I warmed to Nora’s character from the get-go. I wanted her to find ‘happiness’ in whatever form that was for her, and was fully invested in her journey all the way up to her realisation and solidification that despite the tough times, life is bloody great, so let’s go out and live!

Get your copy now via Hive and support your local book shops with every purchase.

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