I ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, AND FEROCIOUSLY LOVED THIS BOOK!!!
Who hasn’t had regrets – wished they’d taken a different path in life, loved more and hated less, studied a little harder, applied themselves a bit more, had more faith in themselves, wished they’d liked themselves for who they were instead of what others wanted them to be?
I’m certainly not immune, and I’ve actually fulfilled a couple of my life’s ambitions, but life is not easy for any of us. As Nora was to discover, we all “fear life” to some degree – we learn pretty young that actions can have pretty painful consequences.
Some of us stare that fear in the face and do what frightens us anyway. Many more of us, however, will step back and opt to take the safer road. I loved the notion of Nora being able to insert herself in a parallel timeline and see how her life would have been like had she taken a chance on all of those potentially life changing events. The whole parallel universe notion was so tantalizing! Imagine if you, too, could finally examine and then burn your own Book of Regrets and just move on with living your best life now?
The first third of this novel is heavily mired in depression. If you’ve never felt stuck or depressed, you will certainly get a clue of what it feels like after you’ve read or listened to those first few chapters leading up to Nora’s attempted suicide. There was a history of depression in Nora’s mother’s family. I was not surprised that Nora fell into depression after taking care of her mother during her long, protracted illness. Death has a way of stopping the clock for the survivors and making them examine the value of their own life. I suspect there will be many who will identify with most of what Nora thinks and says in this novel.
Nora’s Midnight Library is guarded and managed by her beloved childhood mentor and high school librarian, Mrs. Elm. There are several chapters devoted to Mrs. Elm’s struggle to get Nora to try to experience one of the parallel lives in her Midnight library. This reflects the very real battle that a person with depression must face to get to the point where they can finally admit that they need help to get “unstuck.” Matt Haig has given a whole new meaning to the word “potential.” I totally agreed with Nora’s final decision at the end of the book. In fact, I saw it coming even before she had completed her first journey. We can’t live someone else’s life. The choice must truly be our own if we want any abiding sense of fulfillment.
This author – this book – has a lot to teach us. I am so very glad that I decided to check out what all the hype was about: turns out, all that hype was fully merited ! Loved every bit of it, including the sad parts. A full five out of five glowing stars for this heart-stirring, sanity-saving novel. We all need to burn our own book of regrets… and just get on with living our best life NOW!
Highly, highly recommended!
Note: I listened to the audiobook version, very ably narrated by the British film actress, Carey Mulligan.
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