The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Genre: Contemporary fiction / fantasy

Pages: 288

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ / 5

CW: This book and my review talk about death, suicide, depression etc. Although it turns out to be a very empowering book, the first few chapters might be a tough read if you’re struggling with mental health challenges of your own.

HELLO AND WELCOME TO MY FIRST 5 STAR BOOK REVIEW OF THE YEAR!

Blurb: Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

The content of the book is a little bit deep. I’ve followed Matt Haig for some time on Twitter, but this is the first book of his that I’ve read. Having followed him online for so long, I’m aware of his struggles with mental health throughout his life, and I think it’s really great that he’s creating works of fiction to help empower and uplift other people in the same position he was in. I was a little worried going into this book that it would make me feel worse, rather than better, but after the first few chapters that are a bit difficult to read, it really did become a fantastic book.

This is one of those books that when you finish it you feel a bit emotional. I was a bit weary going into this book because it is SO hyped about, and I’ve found in the past that I’ve not always enjoyed the really hyped up books and found them to be a bit lacking (*cough*Eleanor Oliphant*cough*). This book, however, delivered.

Nora Seed struggles with her mental health, so much so that one night when a whole host of things have gone wrong for her, she decides that it is best to take her own life. Upon doing so, she finds herself in The Midnight Library – the place between life and death. There are an infinite number of books in the library, and they are all different scenarios for Nora to try out in life to see if she can enjoy them more. If it’s a life she enjoys, she will stay in it forever until she dies a natural death… If she doesn’t enjoy the new life, she will be sucked out of the life, returned to the library,  and the book will disappear from the shelves forever.

Nora is presented with a book of regrets – everything in her life that she did and regretted – and starts to work through the book doing things differently to see if on that occasion things turned out any better for her.

What I liked:

The whole idea behind this book is completely magical. The book is beautifully written throughout, however the final 30 or so pages really tugged on all of my heart strings. I think if the last 30 pages were any different that the book would have been a 4 star, these last few chapters made the entire book.

The book has such a deep meaning and it is teaching you throughout that there’s so much more to life than the depression you face, learning to drop your regrets and realising that life has many possibilities, even when you think there’s no other path than the one you’re on.

When I’d finished reading the book, I felt very emotional, but not bad emotional (if that makes any sense at all?!). The book is seriously empowering and uplifting, and feels like a 288 page therapy session.

Nora is a character I really warmed to. In her root (real) life, she was a completely broken soul. Both her parents had passed away, her brother was slowly becoming estranged from her, her cat died, her best friend moved to Australia, and she felt really alone. Her cat dying was the tip of the iceberg for her.

I liked that in the new lives she entered that not everything was sunshine and happiness. It goes to show that what might seem like the ‘perfect’ life on paper, might not transpire to be so perfect. People always try to compare their lives to other people’s thinking that someone else’s life looks better than their own, when they don’t know the fine details about the other person’s life.

What I didn’t like:

There were some parts in the middle of the book where I felt like it was dragging slightly. However, this didn’t deter me from giving the book a 5 star rating.

Editing Leah here: It’s been a few days since I started writing this blog post and I know it isn’t the best post I’ve ever written, but I’m really not sure what else I can say without getting all emotional. If mental health is something you struggle with, then I’d 100% recommend that you read this book. The topic might seem deep and dark, but the book has such a lovely meaning and ending and it’ll no doubt leave you feeling so much better about your existence.

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