This moving novel questions our perception of the perfect life, taking us on a journey full of potential.
Matt Haig releases another highly anticipated novel, this time exploring the possibilities of life itself, never one to shy away from taboo subjects; Haig once again gives us the book we all hoped for.
The premise is as follows; Nora is sad, she is so beaten by life that she decides to end it. However, after Nora decides to die she ends up between life and death, in The Midnight Library. This library holds all of Nora’s possible lives, an infinite amount of lives she could have had if she had chosen a different path. And now Nora has a second chance, she can try out these lives and find one that suits her, one where she has no regrets but is that even possible?
With the help of an old friend, Nora looks through her book of regrets and picks lives that could have been. In one life she is a rockstar singing to millions, in another, a vineyard owner married in California, in another, she is a stoner living in a student house in Australia. And in her final life, she is a Lecturer married to the perfect husband, with the perfect daughter in the perfect house. All these lives are ones the reader has probably dreamt of as well, I know I have. As Haig beautifully puts it; it is easy to mourn a life we do not have.
Haig takes us on a journey, Nora experiences high and lows, happiness and deep sadness but the point is simple. To live, to be alive holds all the potential we ever need. It is easy to wish our lives away, angry at the decisions we could have made, but none of these will lead to a life anymore worth living than the one we already have. This book is medicine and is why I love Haig’s view on life. You can forever wish for change, but it’s only when you look up and see your life that you realise how many paths lay ahead of you now. Potential is always there waiting, better may not always be on the other side, but a shot at happiness is always there.
Haig explores the fact that we as humans tend to simplify life; we put our lives into boxes, ticking them off once achieved, from an early age we are pushed into different directions with the objective never altering, we must be successful and happy at all times. Nora looks at her friends Instagram posts, bewildered by all these successful people who have seemingly figured life out, what Haig makes us see is that this success comes in many forms, and not the one prescribed to us. Happiness is possible, but sadness is inevitable.
“there is no life where you can be in sheer happiness forever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you are in”.Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
Matt Haig is an author who knows this all too well, his novel Reasons to Stay Alive was a huge success, and he has openly talked about his depression and thoughts of suicide. Haig is a person who understands how fragile life is, and is someone I trust to help me understand the complexity of it, if this is at all possible. This book works so well because it is written by someone who has been in Nora’s shoes, who has literally and figuratively stood on the edge of that cliff, ready to end their existence but chose, in the face of despair, to live instead. I love his writing because he makes me feel limitless without preaching the ideologies of happiness.
The impact of this book is felt immediately after reading, many people can identify with Nora; always feeling the need for the life we see on social media and in films, but what Haig invokes is a sense of calm about the unknown, washing away the facade that is the ‘perfect life’. So the review for this book is as follows, read it. Because it is the book you need.