My biggest fear is that I will look back on my life with unhappiness and regret, wishing I had done more, seen more, made different choices. Essentially, my biggest fear is becoming Nora Seed.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig introduces Nora Seed, a woman nearing the age where she should have her life figured out, yet everything is going wrong. She finds herself overwhelmingly depressed, grieving the lives she could have lived. She sees no hope for her future. So, Nora decides to die. But before dying, she finds herself in a strange in-between world: the Midnight Library. With the help of a childhood mentor, Nora has the ability to see what could have happened if she chose different paths. She receives the gift of a second chance at life. As she bounces between lives, Nora must learn what makes her truly happy before it’s too late.
I was so excited when I came across this book because it has SUCH an interesting concept, unlike anything I’ve read so far. What first came to mind was a quote by Sylvia Plath, and I was surprised to see it written in the beginning of the book:
“I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.”
Now, normally, I don’t enjoy books with aspects of fantasy, but I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. Yes, the idea of the Midnight Library is dreamy and unrealistic, but there is a lot of truth to Nora’s story. I think so many people can relate to Nora’s feelings of regret and inadequacy. And younger people, like myself, may feel the pressure to make all the right choices in order to have a happy future.
I found it exciting to watch Nora jump from one life to the next and experience alternate versions of herself. In each life, it was also interesting to see how her choices impacted the lives of those around her. Haig’s storytelling made me think about all the choices we make and how even the smallest ones have a huge impact. A certain appreciation for everyday life also shines through in his writing. Without giving away too much of the story, I finished the book with a new sense of purpose and hope.