(Content Warning: discussion of depression and suicide)
The most important book I’ve read this year was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The story follows 35-year-old Nora, who makes the decision to take her own life. At the stroke of midnight, however, she finds herself in a place called The Midnight Library, stuck between life and death. Nora is given the chance to live all the lives she could’ve had if she’d made different choices, big or small. She could live in Australia with her best friend, be a rockstar, an Olympic swimmer or a wife and mother.
It’s a beautiful concept that is wonderfully executed.
At the root of this novel, though, is the confrontation of depression and anxiety. What are the best things that could happen in your life? What is the worst? What would you change if you could? And what can’t be changed? Haig does a great job of keeping this story solely focused on Nora, through her highs and lows, and her willingness, or unwillingness, to live.The novel is a celebration of life and all its possibilities. It reminds you that life is worth living, and that the human mind and heart can always recover from a depressive state of meaning, even when it seems to rob all joy and colour from life. As we follow Nora through all the lives she could have had, we root for her to want to live, for her to realise there’s a reason for her to live. This year has been challenging for so many, but picking up this book gave me a renewed sense of hope that there are beautiful things ahead.