Review: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

oppoflonelinessAbout The Opposite of Loneliness

• Hardcover: 208 pages
• Published: April 2014 by Scribner
• Source: Purchased (Scribd)

Goodreads DescriptionAn affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assem­blage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

My Thoughts

This one first came onto my radar when our book club decided to read a Goodreads Choice Award Winner. I’d never heard of it, and honestly the cover gave me the impression it was going to be light and, well, cheesy. I can’t tell you what made me start reading it a few months ago, unless it was being in a dark place and wanting to know what the opposite of loneliness really was. (Spoiler alert – it’s not what you think.)

The Opposite of Loneliness is not a read-all-at-once book. I read it over the course of three months, one or two stories at a time. I was immediately struck by how poignant Marina’s writing is. Reading her work, you realize the world lost a great writer that we didn’t even know we had.

I couldn’t tell you my favorite story. The book has both fiction and nonfiction, and I enjoyed them equally. Some stories are long, some are short. Many have ambiguous endings. Some feel like they’re written by a 22-year-old, some feel they’re written by someone much older and wiser. And yes, some did nothing for me.

True, there’s nothing profound in Loneliness. I didn’t need there to be. There’s enough to make me stop and think, though, and that’s what good writing does – it makes you stop and think.

4 stars