So I know it’s pretty early, but I’m thinking I’ve found my favorite book of this year. Last year I thought V.E. Schwab reached into my heart and mind and wrote my feelings for everyone to see in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Well, now I’m feeling like Matt Haig has done the same thing with The Midnight Library. And it’s a little overwhelming.
Nora Seed is a 30-something gal living in Bedford, full of regrets about all the things she could have been if she’d just pursued another life. A champion swimmer, lead singer in a band, passionate about nature and glaciers, Nora has ended up working in a music store, teaching piano to a neighborhood kid, and struggling to keep her depression under control. As everything seems to be falling apart, Nora decides to end her life. But somewhere between life and death is the Midnight Library, where Nora finds the chance to try on all the lives she could have had if she’d made just one different choice. And if she finds the life she was meant to live, the library and her past life will fade into memory. But what Nora discovers ends up being so much more than simply the life she was meant to live.
Haig tackles a subject that I think is still somewhat off-limits in our culture. Generations past are very familiar with mid-life crises, but it seems like those crises of purpose and existentialism are coming earlier and earlier, hitting my generation around the quarter-life point. Nora encounters a book of regrets in the library, a place to start when thinking about what different life she wants to live. As she experiments and discovers different isn’t the same as better.
Though the topic of the book is a little heavy, dealing with depression, suicide, and self-harm, Haig manages to make it somehow upbeat, a story of hope and potential. Woven into the fabric of the fiction is real-life lessons of letting go of what could have been and pursuing what is now. Haig also highlights the ways one small action or word can be of immense importance to someone else. Life isn’t all about doing grand things, sometimes life is grand because of the collection of little things.