Updated: Sep 15, 2022
I was skeptical about the direction this book was headed after reading the first few chapters. It felt like a glorified version of "It's a Wonderful Life" in literary form. The fact that it takes place in a town named Bedford only reinforced my preconceived (and misinformed) notions. I'll admit that my prior experience with Mr. Haig was less than exceptional, for my reading style at least.
This novel, however, morphed into something so much deeper and thought-provoking than the story it shared on the surface. I jotted down a variety of different quotes sprinkled throughout the pages that I can see serving as a daily mantra for a meaningful, and ironically, wonderful life.
"What sometimes feels like a trap is actually a trick of the mind."
As I followed along with each of Nora's experiential lives, the transition back and forth through the purgatory of a midnight library provided a figurative breath to inhale and feel the various puzzle pieces coming together, slowly forming into something cohesive.
"You are forgetting who you are. In becoming everyone, you are becoming no one."
We all long for something more. More glamorous. More rewarding. More exciting. More satisfying. More, more, more. Perhaps it's a natural byproduct of human nature, but the way Mr. Haig shares Nora's story, we begin to appreciate how less is more. Or maybe more accurately, how focusing on who we are and living to be the truest version of ourselves provides all the joy, sorrow, satisfaction, regret, and growth that we both desire and need to fully appreciate life.
"She realized that you could be as honest as possible in life, but people only see the truth if it is close enough to their reality."
We spend so much time, sometimes inadvertently, charting our course such that we align our expectations with those of others. It often takes time (and too much of it) to realize how unhealthy that is for us as individuals looking to find our way. The deep philosophical thoughts shared between Nora, Mrs. Elm, and the various characters she meets along the way helps me to recognize the honest truth about pursuing what's truly important to us, not what others think will bestow happiness upon us.
"It was interesting, she mused to herself, how life sometimes simply gave you a whole new perspective by waiting around long enough for you to see it."
I remember being asked as a young boy: if you could become any animal, what would it be? My answer as a child, and even now as an adult, is the same. A bird. They provide an opportunity to see things from a new perspective. This book supplies that fresh view through the eyes of another human being who experiences an infinite number of possibilities that the mind-bending concept of parallel universes provides for us.
Do we all have the power to live multiple lives across parallel universes at the same time? Who am I to discount the scientific possibilities of quantum mechanics, string theory, and multiverse scenarios?
"You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it."
And at the end of it all, therein lies the greatest truth. As someone who tends to dive deep into analyzing thoughts, phrases, and emotions, it's this simple but profound truth that sums up this novel through the complex and deep journey Nora Seed travels upon over the course of 300 pages.
I'll never look at midnight the same again, nor will I overlook the gracious opportunity each one presents to us as a chance to start anew.
Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️
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