Table of Contents
Nora Seed(the protagonist) is unhappy in her life and attempts suicide. She ends up at The Midnight Library, where she can try out several versions of her life. She discovers through these alternate realities that the pathways she regrets rejecting were not what she had expected. She eventually finds a happy life, but in the process, she discovers that her previous life was valuable. As Nora decides to live, the Library disintegrates. Nora returns to her previous life, but this time with fewer regrets and more optimism for the future.
Choice is our Identity #
Nora decides to commit suicide after a series of rash events had happened, she does the usual(overdosing medication, a letter etc) to prepare for it. When she does…
At midnight precisely, time seems to stop and Nora is engulfed in a mist. Out of it she sees a building, which is revealed to be filled with endless rows of unlabeled books, all with covers coloured in shades of green. A woman is there, and she either is or resembles Mrs Elm(the librarian of the Midnight Library and the school in which Nora studied).
Mrs Elm explains to Nora that this is the Midnight Library, a space between life and death. The books are portals to the different lives Nora could have lived if she had made different decisions. Every decision in life leads to different results in life, and those possible lives are reflected in these infinite volumes.
There is one book that is different from the rest. With its grey cover, Mrs Elm explains that the heavy book is the Book of Regrets, which records every regret Nora has ever had.
Nora gets to live a different life had she chosen others for the one she had chosen in her current life. Each book represents such a possibility. She gets to pick a book, live it and see if she wishes to continue in it.
The key idea here is that our identity or rather our personality is forged by the choices we make. Each story Nora tries to cope with elaborately makes this fact very clear. The choices she makes make for some good situations simultaneously accompanying certain unwanted outcomes. Nora copes with such situations only to learn that the choices she can make now in her current life can make it much better than trying to live a life that solves regrets from the past.
Almost Pedantic Tone #
The first half of the book was almost pedantic that it was very repetitive of the state in which Nora Seed is threading through. Putting myself in the shoes of Matt Haig, I would have done a worse job than what he has done. This pedanticism is necessary for the book since the protagonist is going through a pedantic situation and there is no better way to show it. In fact more than a criticism, it is a feature of the book which makes it more engaging and make our heads buried in the perspective of the Philosophy Major, Nora Seed.
Hugo Lefèvre #
We get to meet Hugo Lefèvre in the second half of the book when Nora Seed wishes to see her life in the arctic expedition research. Hugo, like Nora, is a jumper, i.e, another person who has his own version of the midnight library. Nora first refuses to interact with him, but then things get spiced up. She learns about the librarian who assists him and how many lives he has shifted through and the symptoms of another person who is shifting in. This is a masterpiece of fiction using the multi-world interpretation of quantum mechanics. They also discuss some quantum mechanics, since Nora Seed, is a philosophy major and had the aptitude to reason with the situations she is going through.
They meet each other in many stops of different lives, but it again becomes pedantic for a reason.
Time Stops! #
The most fascinating aha moment for me is when I read the situation that time stops ticking as Nora Seed enters the Midnight Library. Whether we make more science on the nature of time and parallel universes, we get to see a lot of fiction that deals with such ideas.
Final Verdict #
I would say this is one of the books that can make my weekends spark, as it just stuck with me for hours and I found it difficult to keep it down. It has good life lessons that we can learn for ourselves from the personal experiences of Nora Seed, and some wonderful unexpected moments of joy when some philosophy or physics is employed. There is in fact a small section which has some tid-bids on the workings of Quantum Physics and some philosophical ideas which makes it a worthy read, for me.