Vendor- Haig, Matt
Nora Seed wants to die.
This is where we begin, in Matt Haig's new novel, The Midnight Library: with a young woman on the verge of making a terrible choice. She's lost her job, her best friend, her brother. Her relationships are in shambles and her cat is dead. More importantly, she is just deeply, seemingly irretrievably, sad. She can't imagine a day that is better with her in it. Living has become nothing but a chore.
So she ends it. Overdose. Antidepressants. The world goes black.
And then Nora wakes up. Not in heaven (dull) or hell (overdone) or purgatory (insert Lost joke), but in a library. The Midnight Library, which is the place people go when they find themselves hanging precariously between life and death and not entirely sure about which way to go.
The library is immense. Perhaps endless. And it is filled with nothing but books, shelves and, curiously, Nora's school librarian, Mrs. Elm. "Every life contains many millions of decisions," says Mrs. Elm.
Yes, it really is that simple. And yes, it really is presented that plainly. As a place, the Midnight Library isn't really a library (of course), but is instead a 101-level lecture in parallel universe theory, philosophy and quantum indeterminacy. Really, it's a therapist simulator, minus the couch. A place of regret and possibility. Because who, in their darkest moments — or maybe just on a Tuesday — hasn't wondered what life would be like if only...
Nora certainly has. She is wracked with regret. What would've happened if she'd married her fiance rather than walking out two days before the wedding? What would've happened if she'd stuck with the band she and her brother and their friend Ravi had started rather than bailing just when they were about to get big? What would've happened if she'd stuck with competitive swimming, been a better cat owner, been nicer to her parents, followed her best friend to Australia or become a glaciologist?
Again, yes. The questions are that simple. And again, yes, they're presented that plainly.
The Midnight Library is the place where Nora gets to find out. Where, for an hour, a day or a month, she gets to dip into and sample lives where she made different choices, with the ultimate goal of erasing those regrets and finding a life she's comfortable in.