A poignant study of choice

Bestselling author Matt Haig seems to have put a piece of his own heart into this book.
Last Updated 19 December 2020, 20:30 IST

Between life and death, there is a library,’ she said. ‘And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be different if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’

The Midnight Library is a story about regrets, choices and epiphanies. After a seemingly disastrous day, Nora Seed — a girl who could have been an Olympian, rockstar, glaciologist, mother, but is now just a fired saleswoman and failed cat owner — decides that life is no longer worth living and attempts to take her own. Instead of awakening in the afterlife, Nora finds herself in a library between life and death where each book represents a life she could have had, all branching off from the billions of choices she could have made. The Midnight Library offers her a chance to undo all of her regrets by experiencing any of these parallel lives. To step into a life, all she has to do is open a book. If she finds a good life and feels no disappointment creep in, she can stay and live it out.

Universal in theme

Matt Haig has poignantly explored the concept of choice and how people waste away their present thinking of what could have been had they done something different at some point. He has answered what the purpose of life is without explicitly answering it, but instead making you feel it through the pages of his incredible book. The foundation of the story lies in the many worlds’ theory, in which a new universe blossoms and branches off from every choice. This science fiction does not steal the plot, but serves as a beautiful backdrop to analyse how seeing different versions of Nora’s life affects her willingness to stay alive.

Any life is teeming with possibilities, all it needs is a little perspective. The Midnight Library is universal in its theme in that you don’t need to be depressed or suicidal to appreciate how the author unravels the futility of regret for a life different from the one you are living. The Midnight Library celebrates ordinary life and its immense possibilities through an ordinary girl who experiences the ever-evasive revelation that her ordinary life is worthy of existence.

“It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective. And that the most peculiar discovery Nora made was that of all the extremely divergent variations of herself she had experienced, the most radical sense of change happened within the exact same life. The one she began and ended with.”

Matt Haig, a battler of depression and anxiety himself, seems to have put a piece of his own heart into this book.

Through this sojourn, he puts forth the powerful message that dreaming of a perfect life is a waste of dreaming. The life you are living now is special, because it is yours. You are the author of your book and the full stop to your story is put down when you do so. This is the gratitude and hope you will feel when you reach the last page of this deeply emotional, thought-provoking and comforting story.

(Published 19 December 2020, 20:27 IST)

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