An 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.
While I don’t think I’d ever read this book again (hence why it’s a borrow) I found this book to be interesting. Overall, I liked Marina Keegan and was both impressed and jealous of how great of a writer she was at her age, which made it even more heartbreaking that she lost her life before she really got to reach the level of success I’m sure she would’ve found.
I’d never read “The Opposite of Loneliness” but I vaguely remember hearing about Keegan’s passing and seeing the essay being shared on social media. Reading the essay now as someone who graduated college two years ago and preparing to enter grad school, it hit me hard and made me think, which is probably why it went viral. It’s well written just like pretty much everything else Keegan wrote that was included in this book.
Though there were some essays I certainly skimmed and a few short stories that I just couldn’t get into, with every piece I recognized how good they were. Maybe the story about the exterminator wasn’t my cup of tea but while it was non-fiction Keegan made it feel like an interesting (albeit kind of gross) story. Similarly, while I was confused by how some of her short stories ended they also left me wanting to read more because I liked the characters.
I say this all to say that don’t let my decision to never purchase this book dissuade you. This book was pretty great and it’s sad that Keegan didn’t get a chance to see how her writing touched so many people.
“I want to devote my life to the things that I love. I want to create something lasting that I’m really proud of.”