The Midnight Library: the new story where we question our existence, decisions, and essence through multiple lives and experiences. A slow-burning novel loaded with metaphors and an obvious finally.
In this new fiction novel, Matt Haig tells the story of Nora, whose regrets wait on her heavily. As the story beginnings, we start counting backward towards her tragic end as she looks to end her pointless, miserable life. However, Nora learns that dying goes beyond ending one’s life in the physical world because Nora wakes up in the middle of a beautiful and mysterious library with a universe of possibilities.
Even though people consider this novel slow, boring, and probably pointless, Haig shows the readers through metaphors and philosophical discussions how life is more than what we experience. Nora majored in philosophy, which justifies the complex subjects and questions of life and death. The story puts on the table a hard-to-swallow truth that people miss while growing up: we become our decisions, and that was the path we had to follow. Instead of paying attention to the present and moving forward, Nora realizes she had spent too much energy mourning over the past. The author makes us see that wondering what our lives could have been if we had done something different keeps us stagnated.
“Nora wanted to live in a world where no cruelty existed, but the only worlds she had available to her were worlds with humans in them.”Matt Haig – The Midnight Library
Interestingly enough, as Nora goes back in time to change her life choices, she concludes that memories are mysteriously tricky. Our reason and memories become blurry, and we don’t always see the complete picture or remember how things happened. Also, going back helps Nora realize that her decisions impacted her life in multiple ways, but she still hurt in these new lives. As long as we live, we will hurt and be hurt. We will be happy because to be sad you first need to be happy and to die you need to be alive.
Many books and stories have gone over the question “what would have happened if I have taken a different decision” scenario. Hecate, goddess of decision and crossroads, has been with us since the Greek times, and even Robert Frost in his poem The Road Not Taken:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Strong imagery on how we will take different roads in life, and we will always take the less traveled road, our road, and the lives we life were the ones we had to live, but what is important is making the best out of it. Nora sees this then and realizes that her life is not only hers to life. She sees how her existence impacted other people’s lives and the world.
If you are thinking about reading this book or read it and didn’t like it, I hope this helps you understand it better or see it from a different point of view. Sometimes stories resonate differently for each reader, but a beautiful trait of books is that they keep changing every time we pick them up.
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