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Marina Keegan lost her life at age 22. She had just recently graduated as an English major and was about to start a promising career at The New Yorker, when it all ended in a car accident in May 2012.
It might have been another tragical, senseless death. But what Marina left behind as her legacy is a revelation to her fellow millennial and people of all ages alike: she was incredibly gifted with words.
And so her best pieces of work, both fiction and non-fiction were compiled and published. The finished product was named The Opposite of Loneliness, after a commencement piece she wrote for her graduating class, which went viral shortly after being published online.
I read The Opposite of Loneliness in two sittings, and again many times after. Keegan’s works, fictitious or not, have a way of expressing feelings and thoughts I never knew how to put into words. They are not always perfect, but they are relatable and very real, sometimes even shocking. You don’t need to be a millennial to enjoy them.
From the fear of an unknown future after graduation, to losing a friend, The Opposite of Loneliness will make you feel like you knew Marina Keegan personally, even if not everything she wrote actually happened.
The book spoke to me on many levels. I like to revisit certain essays, especially the opening piece. There were some I didn’t enjoy as much as others, but the collection wouldn’t be complete without them, and I am still glad I read them. Each of Keegan’s works is a quick read, and with 240 pages (depending on whether you read it as a paperback or ebook), so is the entire book.
If you’re interested in other people’s perspectives and are looking for a modern and witty standalone book that won’t take forever to read, this book is for you. Whether you read one piece at a time and switch to other books in between or read the entire thing in one go like I did, it will work both ways.
Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love with everything…
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.
– Marina Keegan, from the poem Bygones
The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of short stories and essays. There are nine pieces of fiction and nine works of non-fiction. In order not to spoil them, I won’t go much into detail with each.
“I miss dreaming forwards,” Anna said.
“I dream backwards now. You won’t believe how backwards you’ll dream someday.”
“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”
Perfect place to read: In your favorite coffee shop on a rainy day, on your move-out day after graduation.
If this book was a food: A three-course menu: hamburger sliders for starters, your mom’s best home-cooked meal as a main course and a tall Chai Latte for desert.