Have you ever wondered how your life may have been different based on choices you’ve made? I know I have. I’m not from here. What if I had never moved here to work for the library? Would I still be married? What job would I be doing? Would I still live in my hometown, or would I have just moved somewhere else? Moving to the Tri-Cities is just one decision I made in a life made of decisions. Maybe a choice you made one night on where to go for dinner had a lasting impact on your life. Your life story is fragile. What if all the other life possibilities you didn’t choose were happening at the same time and you could step into another story and try it out?
Nora Seed is not happy. She regrets many choices in her life, and, when her cat gets killed by a car, she is finally done with this life she has somehow chosen. She takes a handful of pills to end it. Instead of dying, Nora finds herself in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death where she can choose to lead a different version of her life. Maybe she will stay with that boyfriend she later regretted leaving. Maybe she will go to Australia with her friend when she is invited. Will she stay in the band? Become a glaciologist as she dreamed? All these options are open to her now if she wants to step into those lives. If she enters a new life and loves that life, she can stay and her old memories will eventually be replaced with memories from the life she stepped into. If she is dissatisfied with the life, she will return to the Midnight Library and have the opportunity to try out a different one until she finds one she wants to stay with. But, as we have all found in our lives, things we think should make us happy don’t always work out that way. Will Nora find a life that makes her happy? Will she learn more about herself?
The Midnight Library is a story about what in life is fulfilling. What will make us happy? How do our decisions affect our lives and, almost more importantly, how do we think those decisions affect our lives? Some lives we could have had may be good lives, but now that we are someplace else, are they lives we would want? You can take this journey with Nora and think about your own life and decisions. You may never get a chance to visit your own Midnight Library, but Nora’s story may make you think that where you are now is not so bad.
Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His children’s book, A Boy Called Magic, is being made into a film starring Maggie Smith and will be released later this year. The Midnight Librarywas on the New York Times Bestseller list and won the Goodreads Reader’s Choice Award for fiction in 2020.
If you enjoy The Midnight Library, you may also enjoy:
• Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
• Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
• The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Sarah Johnson is a collection librarian at Mid-Columbia Libraries. She reads more than 120 books a year. In her free time, she teaches fitness classes, gardens, and brews kombucha.