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An Honest Review of Matt Haig’s ‘The Midnight Library’

An Honest Review of Matt Haig’s ‘The Midnight Library’

Nora Seed has given up on life. Her 30s were meant to be the decade to show off her career, relationship and family achievements, yet she had nothing to present. With the weight of what she deemed a failure, she decides to end it all. But between life and death, Nora finds herself in a library and each book within it is another life she could have lived.

The Midnight Library is a quaint and heartening read, Haig has written a book meant to motivate, comfort and inspire. With a promising premise in proving that we are the choices that we make, Nora and her parallel universes illustrate just how life can be lived with no regrets. Nora Seed lives her ‘root life’ perceivably unsuccessfully and yet in her other lives, she is a famous Rockstar, an Olympic swimmer or even, simply, a part of a family with her true soulmate. Seed discovers through her infinite lives that even the smallest decisions can have a significant impact on not only her own timeline but those around her as well.

The storyline is a compelling proposition, and before I started reading I was eager to invest in Nora and her lives, potentially with a reflection on my own. However, the prospect of one woman being able to become either an Olympian or a world-renowned Rockstar was unrealistic and unrelatable for me (but is this an inditement of the book or that of my own insecurities?). Nevertheless, it was predictable that these immensely successful parallel universes still didn’t work out for Nora. Whilst I appreciate Haig’s motive in reassuring the reader that a large success does not equal to ultimate happiness, I wish he would have told the story on more grounded terms. 

Unfortunately, I also think it lacked depth in some aspects. Moments in the book that were meant to be emotional and dramatic woefully confused me and there was a lot of extra room for more character development. Sadly, I didn’t attach myself to any of the characters. Even Nora we saw, at best, glimpses of her personality and admittedly I struggled to identify myself with her.

Relatability aside, the story is an easy read and I still found myself eager to dive into the parallel universes alongside Nora. The actual ‘Midnight Library’ anchored the storyline, with spinning shelves and whimsical happenings, the library was a cause for anxious anticipation. Mrs Elm, the librarian, guides Nora through the mechanics of the library, in the same vein as she guides Nora through her troubled mind. As Nora loses hope, the library crumbles and as she restores her faith in her own life, the surroundings light up and fall back into place. Hence, the uncanny place that is the Midnight Library, lying between life and death, is a welcome dash of fantasy that contemporary fiction readers can comfortably get along with. 

“We only need to be one person.
We only need to feel one existence.
We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility.”

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In essence, Haig proves through his writing that he has a uniquely optimistic view of existence. He has developed a respectable story that I’m sure can aid in rewiring the dwindling mindsets of those of us struggling with the monotonous lifestyle of lockdown. A remedy of a novel, the popularity of this book is undoubtedly due to Haig’s skilful presentation of the infinite lives one has the ability to lead and a rosy moral of keeping a positive, carefree outlook on life.

Purchase your own copy of The Midnight Library here.

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