Disclaimer- The review is completely based on my own understanding of the story and its underlying philosophy. It's not a professional review or opinion.
We're humans. Imperfect, flawed, full of doubts and regrets. Most of this insecurity and self loathing is about not being perfect! While we are accepting of other people's flaws and shortcomings, we tend to be really harsh with our own selves. Our focus is always on what we aren't or what we don't have, compared to another. Constantly weighing and judging ourselves, according to standards set by others, makes us lose confidence and makes us feel unworthy, worthless and unwanted. We see ourselves through the eyes of others who judge or mock us, with scant regard for our feelings or circumstances.
We end up blaming ourselves for things out of our control, like death of a loved one. Regrets pile up and make life a living hell. This can lead to depression, loneliness and loss of will to live. So much so that one might give up on life completely and even try to end it....
It is these human emotions and failings that Matt Haig explores in his book The Midnight Library.
The Midnight Library- where Parallel Universe, Quantum Physics, Philosophy and Spiritualism coexist in harmony. They blend and give this story a unique flavor and color. It's dramatic yet subtle storytelling with the generous doses of deep Philosophy written in a deceptively simple manner makes it absolutely unputdownable! It's a deep dive into the complex human mind which is both thriling and scary as the layers unfold. It's a journey into the deepest recesses of the mind, of untold fears, insecurity, loneliness, regrets and guilt, we constantly try to run away and hide from!
The protagonist is a young woman who loses her will to live. Academically brilliant and a competitive swimmer, she has a promising future. But losing her loved ones one after the other makes her feel alone and unwanted. She loses interest in everything she loves to do and sinks into a bottomless pit of despair and hopelessness. Feeling completely useless, she starts blaming herself for everything that went wrong in her life as well as those she loved. She tries to end her life but finds herself in the Midnight Library where she is given a chance to undo her regrets and make different choices/decisions.
She realizes that not all her regrets were entirely her fault. Things like death, destiny aren't in her hands. She wasn't the one to blame for everything that went wrong in her life because certain events are fated!
She understands how she is just an empty shell of herself when she finds herself successful, famous and rich, with music and books missing from that life!
Having experienced most of the lives that 'could have been', Nora has an Epiphany- that there's no 'perfect life' or a life without sadness or a life which is only good and happy. The only way to live life is to live it with the happiness and sadness that comes with it. The only way to live is through acceptance and making the best out of life. Among the infinite possibilities, the one we are living is the most important and has the potential to be the best! It's the 'big importance of small things' that matters.
To sum up literally in one sentence- Don't try to understand life, live it!