The Midnight Library (2020) – Matt Haig

Matt Haig has been very outspoken about mental health and depression throughout his career in both his fiction and non-fiction writing. Suffering from these issues myself, I really didn’t want to read any of his works, because I just didn’t need the reminders, and yay for him for finding something that works for him, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for me.

That’s a lot bitter sounding than I wanted it to be, and it wasn’t intentional, it’s just, I’ve learned, that each person’s depression is a personal thing, and even speaking and writing about it (for anyone can be tough). That being said, I was intrigued by the idea of his novel, The Midnight Library, about a young woman, Norah Seed, who has been struggling with her depression and self-harm thoughts, and it all comes to a climax on one incredibly bad day, leading her to decide, what a lot of people believe, is the only option left them at those moments, to take her own life.

But she doesn’t die, she ends up in a bit of a limbo, in the form of a library, where the books that could be here life make up the stacks. It’s A Wonderful Life by way of quantum physics and the multiverse theory, as she sees how her life could be, should be, and what regrets have impacted her and held her back from living.

With a story launching in Bedord (Falls; thats the name of the place in Capra’s classic film), Norah explores all the possibilities that her life could hold, and through that perhaps finds a want, a need, a desire to live.

The story never talks down about Norah’s depression, it treats it authentically, and there were a number of moments I could relate to, even thinking of my own ‘Book of Regrets.’

The question is, do we the readers, or more specifically, I do something about it?

This was a quick, easy, and emotionally rewarding read, and I love the idea of leaping through lives to see the possibilities, and then deciding how to earn those possibilities, and the lives that go with them, and who we are deep inside, as well as the way others see us.

I love this kind of story, looking at the possibilities that could, would and should have of one’s life, and the realisation that some of them can be achieved, some aren’t what you truly want, and the smallest acts can lead to the biggest rewards in life.

Will I do things differently, will I try to talk about my own depression more openly, I’d like to, will I disregard regrets and live, we’ll see.

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