The Midnight Library Book Review
- Fiction / contemporary / magical realism
- 288 pages
- Goodreads rating: 4.07
- TW: depression, suicide, anxiety
Nora Seed has decided that she has absolutely no reason left to live. She has nothing but regrets for all of the choices she has made. She has nothing and nobody will miss her. She ends her life at the stroke of midnight. When she wakes up, she sees a library. This is not the afterlife, but a Midnight Library, where every book is a life she could have led if she had made different choices. She gets to live those lives to see what could have been. If she can find a life that leaves her with no regrets, she gets to stay there.
“A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole. There may be bits you don’t like, a few dodgy side streets and suburbs, but the good stuff makes it worthwhile.”Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
Matt Haig has a way with words, that’s for sure. His writing is soft and gentle, but still gets its point across. I didn’t know that Haig had struggled with his own mental health when I read the book, but I had a hunch. He describes depression and anxiety from the main character’s point of view in a way that I’ve never seen any writer describe it before, which made me wonder about his own experiences with mental illness. Turns out I was right (though for his sake, I would rather have been wrong). Haig approaches such delicate subjects with so much care, but he also makes it clear that it is okay to talk about mental health. There is no taboo around mental illness in this book. Though the book is a work of fiction, there are plenty of ideas on regrets and mental health to take away from it.
“Sometimes just to say your own truth out loud is enough to find others like you.”Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
I read this book as a part of a buddy read back in December, which had its pros and cons. Pro: the book was a little slow, especially around the 50% mark. Spreading the book out over multiple days definitely helped keeping me interested (I loved the book, but I have a hard time getting through slow-paced books). Con: If someone who hasn’t read the book is in charge of dividing the pages, you end up with pauses in places where it was just getting interesting.
“You’re overthinking it.’ ‘I have anxiety. I have no other type of thinking available.”Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
It was the concept of the book that really made me want to read it. I didn’t really know Matt Haig or anything he has written, but the summary really spoke to me. It wasn’t at all what I had expected the book would be about and I was intrigued. It is wonderfully executed as well, I was definitely not disappointed. At no point was I bored with the story or did I find it predictable. Haig kept surprising me with turns on events and was always one step ahead. Every time I thought I knew what was happening, it turned out.. I didn’t.
I would definitely recommend this book to any- and everyone. If depression, suicide or anxiety are a trigger for you, don’t do it, though. These are not just a scene or two, they’re a main theme throughout the book. Everyone else: if you haven’t read this yet, I urge you to pick it up. You’ll read a wonderful work of fiction that might actually teach you a thing or two. This will definitely not be the last Matt Haig book I read. Feel free to send me recommendations for my next one.