A simple story with a simple message: 'choices lead to different outcomes'.
The book starts with a woman losing her cat and her job, having already lost both parents, her potential marriage, contact with her brother and best friend. She sees no point in carrying on and decides to end her life. But instead of death she finds herself in the Midnight Library where every one of the (probably) millions of books is a life she would have had if she had made a different choice. All except for one book, which is the Book of Regrets, the biggest of them all. In this fantasy purgatory she gets to try a lot of the alternate lives out, the idea being that if she finds a life she likes, she can live it.
The simplicity of the writing and the themes makes this suitable for anyone to read, and it is clearly aimed at a young adult audience. The issues of depression and suicide are not portrayed in any clinical depth other than the character is feeling down about her life, no doubt about that. The depression serves as a vehicle to the concept of cause and effect. Philosophical quotes from the likes of Voltaire, Thereau, Plato, Confucius, Camus and Aristotle are littered throughout as if the novel is reaching out to higher intellect. However, the book is more reminiscent of the American films It's a Wonderful Life and the romantic comedy Sliding Doors. And in one book/life, another character referred to her as a 'slider'. I'm convinced The Midnight Library will become a film soon, too.
An enjoyable and captivating book that avoids heavy philosophical or scientific explanations. As one character says: 'You don't have to understand life. You just have to live it.'
Published by Canongate books on 13 August 2020.
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