tws for this book: su*cide, depression, anxiety
When my library got this book, my interest was piqued: a library?? of lives?? a title similar to my favorite HeadSpace Sleepcast?? Amazing. And THEN this won the Goodread’s choice award for fiction!
Overall, this was a great book, but because of the hype, I was a little underwhelmed, which is what prevents me from giving this a full 5 stars, but it was a still a fantastic work of fiction dealing with really heavy, really real topics. Matt Haig has talked before about his own experiences with mental health struggles and I really loved how he took his own experiences to inform this work and twist the concept in a new way.
The Midnight Library is about Nora Seed, who full of misery and regret, decides to take her own life. But she doesn’t die—instead, she ends up in the place between life and death, called The Midnight Library. Every book in the library contains a different life, and Nora is able to “read” these books—live as if she had done something differently. But the library won’t last forever, and Nora must find the life she wants to live before time runs out.
I really liked the writing and the ways that the chapters were broken up (I’m a sucker for short chapters!) Despite Nora living a ton of different lives, her voice was always distinct and you could sense the shift in her thinking as her desire to live grew. The plot itself was a really interesting premise and I really loved the pacing: this book is short, and the pacing keeps the story moving. Although I do wish we had gotten a little more at the end (but maybe that was the point). The book mainly revolves around Nora, and I thought it was really interesting how in each life, there are some people that are common threads through a few (or all) lives, but there are others that only appear in one life. The only character I found confusing was Hugo (iykyk)—I didn’t really understand him, and I wish we had gotten a little more closure about his character.
Overall, this book is largely focused on the larger theme of the novel: what makes a life worth living? Obviously, mental health is a really important topic as of late, and even for those without mental illnesses, many people still are full of regrets. I think this was a great concept for working directly with those themes while also managing to be creative and entertaining. Dealing with mental illness myself, I really connected to the book due to the theme and saw myself in Nora.
This is a beautiful, short-and-sweet tale of one woman’s quest for happiness. If you have experienced struggles with mental health, or are just curious about it, this is a great work of fiction that stays on the lighter side. It’s a solid 4-Star book for me, and IMO, it is definitely worth the read. I really loved the writing style as well and hope to read more of Matt Haig’s books in the future.