The Midnight Library
By Matt Haig
(288 pages, fantasy, 2020)
This book is a New York Times bestseller, a Good Morning America Book Club Pick and A LibraryReads 2020 Voter Favorite. Several coworkers recommended it, so I thought that I would give it a try.
Nora Seed is a young woman who has decided that she doesn’t want to live anymore. She has no job, no boyfriend, no husband, her parents are gone, her brother is distant, her friend has moved to Australia, and her cat has died! She takes on overdose of sleeping pills to try and kill herself.
But then, at midnight, she discovers herself in an in-between place. She meets her old school librarian, Mrs. Elm, who was always a comfort to Nora. Mrs. Elm explains about this extraordinary place.
“Between life and death there is a library,” she tells Nora. “And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be different if you had made other choices … Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
Nora has a lot of regrets, and she picks book after book. She tries life after life. She becomes a rock star, an Olympic gold medal swimming champion, a glaciologist, a professor, and tries many other careers and lifestyles. Each time she experiences what life would have been like if she had made other choices. Nora has many chances to change her life. But which one is the best life for her? Which one will have the least regrets?
At first I thought that this might be a very sad book. Nora keeps trying life after life, and none of them are quite what she really wants. Some have some definite twists and turns. I was worried that she would never find the right life. This story brings up a lot of questions about life, the choices people make, and parallel universes. But take heart – ultimately, this is a very positive book and I’m glad I read it.
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