A Thousand Lives – a review of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Needless to say, this book has its trigger warnings with the main theme of it being suicide. And I know that opinions on this book’s themes become very diverse. I won’t comment on the suicide themes as I have been lucky enough to not be in a position where I face these thoughts and I have not yet been diagnosed with any mental disabilities. I cannot comment on how well this novel depicts suicide, or not, and I don’t intend to.

I’m just here to talk about the story and its message.

Nora finds herself in a place between space and time after she commits suicide. She walks into a library filled with books that represent alternate versions of her life, lives where she makes changes big and small and her entire way of living changes. Any one of these lives could be a new life for Nora to choose. But to pick between them all becomes a challenge as she discovers lives where she is still depressed, where more of her loved ones die or where she realises her childhood dreams have equal nightmares. Nora wonders why she can’t find the life right for her, or if one even exists for her out there.

The language sold me like nothing else. That was the highlight of this novel for me – the writing style and the way everything was described throughout. There was a lot of artistry in each chapter that made so many paintings in my mind out of prose. I could imagine each of Nora’s stories vividly with the words put before me, making each of them so enthralling to read. And wow, there was so much.

Nora’s character felt very everyman and was easy to relate to. It is very universal to wonder what you are going to do with your life at any age, and Nora’s was taken to an extreme. It was easy to relate to aspects of her for me with her many interests and the struggle throughout this story to find one to truly put your heart and soul into in the hopes that it will be fulfilling. I loved to explore these different facets and passions of Nora.

Above all else, this novel made me change my thinking. Novels that do this instantly gain an high reputation in my eyes. Since reading this book I have put the novel’s message forth into my own day to day actions and it has offered a grand perspective on my own life henceforth. For the right people, this novel can leave you feeling hopeful and can give you your agency for your life back in spite of the struggles to try and work out what we want out of it.

The Midnight Library gets a score of 5/5. A book that changes the way I think with such prose deserves this.

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