The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a slow book. And I mean that in the best possible way. It unfolds its pleasures and sorrows a petal at a time, leading you towards an end you can see is inevitable and yet still not want to miss a step of the journey there.
At the end of a very bad day Nora decides her life is not worth living and attempts suicide, but instead of dying, she finds herself in the Midnight Library – a place where every one of the infinite number of books on the shelves is a life she might have lived if she had made different choices along the way. Much like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol”, she has lessons to learn along the way before she can make peace with the path she has actually lived in her “root life.” And she’s remarkably game about diving into each life.
At first, I wasn’t sure about this book. Did I want to read about someone so tragically depressed? And the ending seemed so obvious. Would I be disappointed to get there and see I was right? I got there, and I was right, but I wasn’t disappointed. Nora’s journey through her possible lives, and Nora herself as she learns about herself, kept me curious and then rooting for her. Each step seemed right, but there were still surprises. It’s so artfully constructed and written, that I found myself delighted as each piece fell into place and new layers revealed themselves.
If you like Magical Realism and pondering the nature of life and consciousness, you’ll like this book.