This is the first book I completed on my 2023 read list. It also covered my new to me author square in book BINGO, so this book was a win-win for me! But did I like it? Keep reading to find out!
Premise of the book: The main character Nora decides to commit suicide. When she does, she ends up in the place between life and death, which for her is a library. The library, called The Midnight Library, is run by a figure that looks like her childhood librarian Mrs. Elm. The books on the shelves of this library are all the different lives Nora could have possibly had based on different decisions she made. From there, the reader is taken on a journey through the many lives Nora could have had.
Why I liked this novel: As someone who deals with mental issues and constant regrets, I feel like I can relate to Nora on many levels. I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve wondered how differently my life would be had I made different decisions. But if there’s one lesson that I’ve taken from this book is that dwelling on all those other possible lives isn’t healthy and that this life, the one we currently have, is the only one we should be thinking about.
The use of The Midnight Library as not only a setting, but a representation of Nora’s struggle to live or die was brilliant. Libraries are known for holding vast amounts of knowledge and even though Nora is the only person to benefit from the knowledge of this library, the way it was done makes the reader feel like they’re gaining knowledge from it as well.
The writing was both fluid and jarring. What I mean by that is there were some great transitions between the library scenes and Nora moving into her next life… but when she was snapped out of those lives and back in the library, it felt a bit jarring, which I think worked perfectly for this novel. It’s like being snapped out of a dream that feels real, but isn’t, and that’s basically what Nora was experiencing throughout this novel.
What I don’t like about this novel: There was one minor inconsistency in this novel that stuck with me throughout the reading of it. Nora’s mother dies in the novel and she dies 3 months before Nora was set to be married. It wasn’t too any pages after we receive this bit of information that it’s said her mother died 4 months before she was set to be married. If this had be written while Nora was exploring one of her other lives, then it wouldn’t be an issue. But this was said while she was still in her actual life. This is is obviously an oversight by both author and editor, but it really irked me for awhile (and admittedly I’m still irked by it).
The introduction of the character Hugo, who was on a similar journey to Nora, didn’t work for me. I felt like he was just a way for the author to deliver information that both Nora and the reader needed to understand the journey she was on. I feel there could have been a better and more creative way for us to receive this information.
The last thing I didn’t like about this novel was the predictable ending. I wasn’t even anywhere close to the halfway point of the book when I told my boyfriend I knew how this novel would end… and I was right. Don’t get me wrong- for a book like this one, I understand why the author would choose the ending he chose. Because had he chosen the opposite ending, it might send readers the wrong message. As someone who struggles with mental health issues on a daily basis, I know there’s only two ways for a story like this to end… and though I commend the author for choosing the ending that sends the better message to readers, I feel like already knowing what the ending was going to be watered down Nora’s journey for me. I won’t spoil the ending for anyone, so you will just have to read this book for yourself to find out what I mean!
Overall, I give this book a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. I think it has a powerful message that could benefit those like myself who struggle with mental health issues. So please, if you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health and struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 800-273-8255 any time day or night.
Have you read The Midnight Library? If so, did you enjoy it? Do you plan on reading it? I would love to know your thoughts! I hope everyone has a great day!