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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 Internatio 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.


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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 Internatio 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.

30 review for The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lindy Loo

    This book infuriated me. I'm sure it has infuriated others as well, but given the circumstances (and tragic death) of its writer, I suspect most folks feel uncomfortable panning it. So I'll take one for the team and be that asshole. When I jumped into this book, having read its hype, I was expecting to spend a few days in bed, shamed that a 20-something writer could mop the floor with words in a way that I still cannot at 37. Imagine my shock when I realized just the opposite: Had Marina Keegan This book infuriated me. I'm sure it has infuriated others as well, but given the circumstances (and tragic death) of its writer, I suspect most folks feel uncomfortable panning it. So I'll take one for the team and be that asshole. When I jumped into this book, having read its hype, I was expecting to spend a few days in bed, shamed that a 20-something writer could mop the floor with words in a way that I still cannot at 37. Imagine my shock when I realized just the opposite: Had Marina Keegan not died so tragically (and I don't mean to downplay the tragedy because, truly, it was a sad and unfortunate event), I (hope? am convinced?) that this book never would have seen the light of day. As the writer of the book-jacket reveals, what propelled this book into existence is one of Marina's essays "going viral" right after her untimely death, an essay that doesn't sound much different than every single high school student's graduation speech. Marina seems a smart and thoughtful cookie, the type of girl who would recognize herself that just because something gets picked up by the masses and thrust into the public eye because of tragic circumstances DOESN'T MEAN IT'S GOOD. It just means we love a good tragedy. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that Marina's writing sounds like exactly what it is -- the product of writers workshops and a 20-year old mind. Anne Fadiman (who wrote the introduction) extolls Marina's writing virtues by stating that, while her other 20-something students try to sound 40, Marina's magic resides in the fact that she does not. That her works resound with the voice of a young 20-year old. And that is true. Profoundly true. And sadly true. Because the fact of the matter is: there are plenty of writers out there who don't feign the profundity of a 40-something writer AND YET are doing something real and different and profound. Marina is not one of those. Her writing sounds like most everyone else's writing in college--it doesn't take risks. It's not surprising. Its neatly packaged endings make me groan and picture my own workshop instructors saying: 'Nooooo--that's too easy! Take it somewhere surprising! Somewhere truthful but interesting!' Her writing may be truthful, it may occasional stumble across a bit of insight, but it is rarely interesting. It is rarely remarkable. And, quite frankly, if this is what the New Yorker considers the voice of this generation, then it represents exactly what its writer was hoping to rise up in the face of: "the death of literature."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THIS BOOK! Let's do a good old fashioned pros vs cons: PROS: - A new found enjoyment in non-fiction! Essays are fun! - When Marina wrote about topics she was really confident in and had first-hand experience with her essays and stories felt so true to life and honest. - As a writer this book was really inspiring. It made me want to go out and write and share and keep on going! - THAT OPENING SPEECH, THOUGH. WOW. Golden. Golden! Took my breath away! - I read this with a friend (hi I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THIS BOOK! Let's do a good old fashioned pros vs cons: PROS: - A new found enjoyment in non-fiction! Essays are fun! - When Marina wrote about topics she was really confident in and had first-hand experience with her essays and stories felt so true to life and honest. - As a writer this book was really inspiring. It made me want to go out and write and share and keep on going! - THAT OPENING SPEECH, THOUGH. WOW. Golden. Golden! Took my breath away! - I read this with a friend (hi, Rae!) and it was a great buddy read: we had such a blast discussing each story and essay! CONS: - I felt that Marina tried to hard to be profound sometimes. Some of the lines were very dramatic (especially the endings) and it could feel a bit forced. - All of the endings were so sad! There's nothing wrong with a sad ending, it's good to be realistic, but this was sad after sad after sad! I would have liked some variety and glimmers of hope! Overall I'm really glad that I read this. There were a bunch of stories that I didn't personally enjoy, but I felt that I learned a lot from this book. It had me asking loads of questions - why didn't I like that story? what emotion is Marina trying to make me feel? what makes a good last line? how would Marina feel about these stories being published? why did her parents choose these specific stories? - and made me think about what I want from my own writing. Marina's story is a sad one, but I think that, actually, a lot of hope and inspiration can be taken by the way she lived her life and her devotion and dedication to writing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    One of the best books i've ever read. Some of the most beautiful writing i've experienced. Some of these quotes gave me chills so bad I had to stop reading. A few of these stories lost my interest, but the ones that blew my mind made up for it. A book that deserves every award and every 5 stars in the world. One of the best books i've ever read. Some of the most beautiful writing i've experienced. Some of these quotes gave me chills so bad I had to stop reading. A few of these stories lost my interest, but the ones that blew my mind made up for it. A book that deserves every award and every 5 stars in the world.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    I was drawn to this book because of the tragic backstory and also because (this is a little embarrassing) I'm trying to understand the so-called millennial generation a little better than I think I do; there are noticeable differences, many of them rooted in stereotype. Anne Fadiman, who wrote one of my favorite books ever ("The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"), writes a beautiful introduction here about her student, Marina Keegan, and Marina's tragic death five days after graduation and so I was drawn to this book because of the tragic backstory and also because (this is a little embarrassing) I'm trying to understand the so-called millennial generation a little better than I think I do; there are noticeable differences, many of them rooted in stereotype. Anne Fadiman, who wrote one of my favorite books ever ("The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"), writes a beautiful introduction here about her student, Marina Keegan, and Marina's tragic death five days after graduation and some of the reasons why Marina's admirers felt they should bring out a book of the writing she left behind from her undergrad years at Yale. The book is somewhat critic-proof, given the circumstances (as Fadiman wisely notes, she'd want to be remembered for being good, not being dead), but I did have three responses: 1. I agree with the reviewer below who said this reads like the work of the best student in an undergrad writing class. Marina's short fiction stories are far better than her essays, which tended toward platitude, because, hey, 22 and in awe of the world. Whatever profound insight others have found in her essays has escaped me. (Also, as Fadiman notes, you are completely aware that you are reading the work of a young woman in her earliest 20s, rather than a college student trying to sound impressive and adult.) The journalist in me was pleased by the number and variety of people she interviewed for her essay about the high number of Yale students opting (sadly, Marina surmised) for careers in finance/consulting. 2. There are all sorts of issues here to discuss (for book groups, I think, and an undergrad writing class, far away from the Ivy League) about privilege. To what degree has influence and a top-tier education made it so that you are now holding the contents of Marina's hard drive in a hardcover book from a big publisher? To what degree was Marina aware of her connections, besides acknowledging her good fortune? (Only the Fadiman essay provides the real context -- who was she? How was she different from other 22-year-olds? -- but it's an interesting way to examine the work as well, through the prism of the fraught subjects of elitism and entitlement.) 3. When I came here to write my review, leave my three stars (really more like 2.5 stars), and move the book into my "read" column, I clicked the "rating details" to see what the general ratings had been thus far, which indicate that NOBODY has given this book 2 stars or 1 star. But that's not true. If you scroll down into the text reviews, you'll see more than a few 2-star and 1-star reactions, many of which are valid and even spot-on. Hey, Goodreads: Why don't the "ratings details" reflect the ratings given alongside the reviews? Is the overall score even accurate? Even though she has done so posthumously, Marina has published a book that retails for $23. It should come under the same scrutiny as anyone's book. From what we gather in Fadiman's intro, she would want to see all the scores, not just the four-star and five-star rankings.

  5. 5 out of 5

    eb

    This collection reads like what it is: the work of the most talented person in an undergrad writing class.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    Wow these essays were beautiful. There are definitely a few I will go back to in the future and reread

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    "We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility, because in the end, it's all we have." Overall Rating: 2.7 out of 5 stars Before the haters drink their Haterade and troll me for being an unfeeling asshole, HEAR ME OUT. First of all, think what happened to Marina Keegan is absolutely tragic. The poor woman literally had her whole life in front of her when she died in a car crash. That this happened five days after she graduated from college makes it even worse. And I think that if she ha "We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility, because in the end, it's all we have." Overall Rating: 2.7 out of 5 stars Before the haters drink their Haterade and troll me for being an unfeeling asshole, HEAR ME OUT. First of all, think what happened to Marina Keegan is absolutely tragic. The poor woman literally had her whole life in front of her when she died in a car crash. That this happened five days after she graduated from college makes it even worse. And I think that if she had been given the opportunity, she would have made something out of herself and (most likely) would have grown not only as a person, but as a writer as well. Who knows, she could have been the next ‘Great American Voice’. The problem is, she wasn’t quite there yet. Unfortunately, the creators of this book didn’t realize that when they were putting this together. They’ve dubbed her “An Icon for a Generation”. And from what I’ve read, this is a FAAAAR stretch. The Positives:Since I hate to be solely negative about something unless it’s absolutely necessary, because there were some positive aspects to this. Despite me not loving the writing, I do think that Ms. Keegan showed a lot of potential. Give her a few years’ time and a chance to master the craft of writing, and I think she could have made it as a writer. From the few snippets made by her family and friends, I got the feeling that she was a spunky, spirited young girl with a passion for learning and a drive to succeed, qualities that are extremely admirable. Her essays were distinctly better that her short fiction, and I enjoyed most of them. The Not So Positive:If the book’s premise was to show a future, promising writer who undoubtedly would have grown in her craft, then this book is a success. If the book’s premise was to show a writing star that had become the “Voice of Our Generation” and was the new Ernest Hemingway and what not (seemingly overnight with little effort), then this book is a failure. While her stories were good, most of them weren’t memorable. Her writing was just “meh”, especially when it came to her fiction. To me, it seemed like she was trying too hard. The writing in most of them felt extremely forced, as if she thought that using big, fluffy, “literary sounding” words would elevate her as a “serious” writer. As I was reading this, I came to wonder why on Earth this had become such a popular success when the writing was so average. Which leads me to diagnosing this book with…. Esther Earl/Money Talks Syndrome There’s this little book that not many people know about, written by a little known author not many people know about. It’s called The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s only sold over a million copies and been made into a movie that grossed $266 million dollars. Well, the novel was partially inspired by a girl named Esther Earl, a fan of Green’s work and “Nerdfighter” who was diagnosed with cancer at 12. She became close to John Green before her death at 16. After her death, her parents put together a book of her journal entries, drawings, and what not and compiled them into a book, This Star Won’t Go Out. It went on to sell quite a lot of copies and won the GoodReads Choice Award for Memoir. You ask the question; how did this book written by a girl go on to sell so many copies when she did nothing extraordinary or groundbreaking (no offense to Esther. Cancer sucks and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone). The answer, my friends? She had connections. If this had been a regular Joe Blow from Nowhereville, USA who had gotten cancer, died, and his family wrote a book about him after their death, no one would have paid a second look. Hell, there are kids and people with cancer who have done extraordinary things despite their illness and don’t receive the recognition they deserve. Why? Because they don’t know the right people. They have no one influential backing them up in their corner. Some of the people who read This Star Won’t Go Out were complaining about this in their reviews, and how they felt that the only reason she was getting so much positive praise and success was because of her friendship with Green. Marina, unfortunately, fits into this category as well. From the essays I’ve read, she did nothing extraordinary or special to get this attention. She didn’t stand out in any particular way. But she came from a privileged upbringing, and had connections to the right people, which is probably why her work got published in the first place and (like Esther) enjoyed immediate and popular success. What does this do to the average Joe, though? There are writers who are far superior to her, who have been working for a long time, creating blood, sweat and tears in order to get a work published, and yet never find the success Marina does (and she did very little). This might leave some readers a bit sore, so if you’re sensitive to those types of issues, I would stay away from this. After this long winded intro, I might as well break down the stories and essays. You’ll start to see a pattern. I didn’t particularly enjoy her fiction, but I liked her essays. The Opposite of Loneliness- 3/5 Marina’s last essay for the Yale Daily News, this is sort of like the college version of a high school commencement speech. You know, those speeches usually given by the class president of the valedictorian of the graduating class, trying to inspire the other students on their quest to becoming adults and what not. I thought this was a nice little piece, but it just wasn’t anything special. There was nothing outstanding or extraordinary about it. It sounded like a rehashed version of all the other commencement speeches out there. Of course, this is coming from the person who doesn’t remember the speeches the president or valedictorian made at her high school graduation, but that was probably because I was steeling myself for the 1 hour wait it would take for my name to be called (yes, it actually did take that long. With 795 students crossing the stage, it took a while for them to get to the W’s. There’s a reason I’m skipping my college graduation, people.) But it was certainly a nice, quick read, and I can see why it would inspire a lot of people. Cold Pastoral- 2/5 This follows a girl named Claire, who is left in the awkward position of being asked to speak at the funeral of her boyfriend Brian (who, in a tragic irony, died in a car crash). Why is this awkward? Because she has to deal with the presence of his ex-girlfriend Lauren. This was probably not the best story to start out with, because it’s one of the weaker ones of the collection. The writing felt forced, and I could generally find no purpose or moral to the story. There was also no concrete middle or ending, which made the overall story fall flat. It also didn’t help that the main characters were unlikable. Winter Break- 3/5 Again, with this story, I found no point to it, and no concrete resolution either. It seems to me that Marina likes to write about young, pretentious kids who abuse substances and try to sound wise and sage. Unfortunately, it backfires and makes them sound like idiots. This story follows a girl named Addie who comes home over winter break and witness the breakdown (??) of her family. Question marks are indicated because I never got the distinct feeling of what was going on. Reading Aloud- 4/5 By far, the best short story of the collection. THIS is the work that shows the most promise to it, with characters you can finally connect to and a concrete middle and ending. APPLAUSE!! I found the characters to be particularly interesting. You have Anna, a faded ballerina who is a hypochondriac (and from the sounds of it, early on-set dementia), who reads to Sam, a blind man. Thing is, Anna is currently going through a midlife crisis where she doesn’t have any romantic feelings for her husband, so she compensates for that by emotionally cheating on him with Sam. Again, this was my favorite of the stories The Ingenue- 1/5 And… we’ve gone downhill again with the stories. Never have I read a story where the main character does do much slut shaming. Look I get it; you have jealousy issues. But does this give you the right to bitch about EVERY SINGLE WOMAN your boyfriend comes into contact with? And yet despite all this, YOU STILL MARRY HIM?!! Girl, what the fuck is wrong with you? Needless to say, this was my least favorite story of the collection. The Emerald City- 3/5 Points for the originality of the story, as it’s told entirely by emails. I felt like Marina took more risks with this story, but man, there were plot holes galore in this. We were treated to such a nice email exchange between a soldier and his girlfriend, when “wham bam, thank you ma’am”, we’re treated to an ending that’s so ridiculous in nature you wonder if you missed something from the previous email. Lack of connection between the main characters also docked this down to a three, but I thought the overall storytelling was solid (just not extraordinary). Baggage Claim-2/5 Unmemorable. In fact, so unmemorable I completely forgot what this was about as I sit here typing this. I think it was about a man who lost his bags at the airport, but I’m not sure. I’m not going back to find out though ;). Hail, Full of Grace- 3/5 We’re now to the point of the book that I was inwardly groaning to myself, asking when the heck is this going to end. Thankfully, this story wormed its way onto my radar and actually proved to be a heartwarming story. However, I questioned the actions of the main characters, whom I thought acted quite selfishly. Their actions made no logical sense either. It was like they were repeating the same mistakes over and over again without learning the consequences. I do think this story would appeal to anyone who liked Rainbow Rowell, though, as the plot was similar in vein to her novels. Sclereotherapy- 1/5 I know they say you can write about anything, but when the whole plot of this story involves a woman explaining her Chinese tattoo and getting her varicose veins removed, there’s a problem. Where’s the plot? Where’s the character development? Where’s the overarching theme? Where’s the climax? Where are the events leading up to the climax? WHERE’S THE POINT???? This story was essentially missing everything that makes a story just that: A story. This read like a high school student’s paper. Challenger Deep- 2/5 Glory Hallelujah we’re at the end, people!! And the end this section of the short story part of the book, we end with yet another story that’s not particularly memorable (aka Katherine can’t remember). If my memory serves me, I think this is about a college expedition to the ocean to research jellyfish. Weak characterization and plot, and just all around “meh”. Stability in Motion- 4/5 Just when I was beginning to lose all hope for this book, the essay section began. And I have to say, Ms. Keegan was a MUCH (emphasis on the much) better essay writer than a short story writer. The writing style flows easier and is a lot less forced than her fictional endeavors. If anything this is a lesson to writers to just let the words flow and to not try too hard to sound literary and all that. Anyhoo, this little essay involves Marina’s first car and how it’s become a special thing to her. Memorable moments in her life involve her car, and when it’s time to give it to her brother, it’s a bittersweet feeling. We all can remember our very first car, whether it’s an old clunker or a brand new convertible. My first car was a 1997 Mercury Sable I named Winifred. She was originally my mom’s car, then my dad’s car, and then passed down to me (that way, if I crashed it, there’d be no hard feelings, haha!!). Unfortunately, Winifred didn’t like me, because she immediately proceeded to break down on me several times. I think we just about replaced every part in the damn thing, until it got to the point where she wouldn’t start on me (aka a BIG PROBLEM). Yup, we all have those memories of our first car, and she perfectly captures that. Why We Care About Whales- 3/5 Why is it that, when watching a movie where an animal is involved, we get overly emotional if something bad happens to them? This is what this essay argues for? Marina tells the tale of the plight of beached whales. When the Earth rotates, the ocean rotates as well. This causes whales to beach, therefore sending them to an agonizing death. She argues that we, as a human society, pay far too much attention to the plight of animals and not enough recognition to the plight of humans. Why should we be helping beached whales on the short when we could be volunteering in Africa saving starving children, she claims? While I appreciated her articulation of thoughts and her logical arguments, I did disagree with her points in this essay. Animals are an important part of our ecosystem as well, and it’s equally vital that we help those animals in need as it to help our own kind. Just think what would happen if no one cared about the animals in the environment; we’d go kaput. **WARNING**: If you don’t like to read about animal suffering, I’d skip this one, as there are graphic descriptions of animal deaths mentioned. Against the Grain- 4/5 The most personal of her essays, this deals with Ms. Keegan’s struggles with celiac disease and her overprotective mother. As a kid, Marina used to shrug her condition off as no big deal, when to her, it actually was. The embarrassment of her mother coddling her and overbearing her with concern and affection, and the general wishing that she could be normal. I have a friend who suffers from the same disease, and the sentiments shared by her and Marina are very similar. Wishing you could eat all the foods that you’re strictly forbidden to is a frustrating thing. It was an easy read and by far her best essay of the collection. Putting the “Fun” Back in Eschatology- 3/5 What’s going to happen when the world ends? Marina tries to answer this question in a scientific manner. For those of you who want an concrete answer, the end of the world will happen when the sun explodes (but before you panic, this isn’t projected to happen for 3 billion years from now, so don’t start the Doomsday preparation yet). Basically, this is a giant PSA announcement for us to protect the environment. It might be a bit too political for some readers, but it’s interesting to hear a logical voice come into the debate. I Kill for Money- 1/5 “This was an essay?,” I asked myself after finishing reading this? It read like a short story more than an essay, which is probably why I disliked it so much. Honestly, I thought this was just plain bad, and had all the same general problems that her other short stories had. This was the bad apple in a sea of good essays. Even Artichokes Have Doubts- 3/5 Ah, the age old question every college student asks themselves at the start of their career: do I major in a subject that I hate, but will lead me to a career that earns me a lot of money? Or do I follow my heart and major in a subject that I love, but will have to resign myself to the fact that I won’t be rolling in the dough anytime soon? Ideally, the perfect major allows you to have the best of both worlds, but for most, this is simply not the case. Marina discovers, at Yale University, that there are a number of engineering majors who aren’t happy that they majored in it to begin with. But to them, it all comes down to the fact that engineers get paid a ton, but also have a wide variety of job opportunities at their disposal after graduation (at least for now). For some students, practicality wins over passion, which means they end up in a career field they absolutely hate. For me, there was never a question as to what I would do (be an elementary school teacher), or how much money I would make. It’s about me being happy in a career I find richly rewarding. But it’s really sad that most people don’t have that option. The Art of Observation- 4/5 When Marina and a friend went to India, they were constantly stopped by locals who wanted to take their picture. Why? Since she looked drastically different than them, she and her friend were curiosities. This kind of gives Marina an ego booster; that they would find her so interesting when she sees herself as anything but. I loved this cultural anthropological study about how what we perceive as normal can be so different to others. For example, if you’re tall and you go to China, they’re going to stare. If you’re fair-haired, they’re going to stare. Because it’s an anomaly over there. You kind of get that same feeling that famous actors go through when everyone wants to take their picture. It’s fun for a while, but after a while, you want everyone to go away. Song for the Special- 3/5 Every generation thinks they’re special in some way because of all the advances that have been made during their life time. It’s so much fun to talk to an elder and listen to what they’ve been through. They’re walking, talking history books. And yet, Marina says, we’re constantly jealous because they got to go through and see all these amazing things we’ll never get the chance to experience (at least not in this life). The thing is, we shouldn’t be dwelling on what could have been; we shouldn’t even be dwelling on the “what will become”. We need to live in the now, preserve the memories NOW, so when the time comes, we can be those walking, talking history books future generations can hear about.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile

    What beautiful talent and skill in such a young life. Her story, her words, peeking into her mind is heartbreaking but also hopeful and inspiring all at once. Though gone, her potential lives on in this way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    In a perfect world, this book would have never been published because Marina Keegan wouldn't have died at age 22. There were a few decent stories and essays in here--writing that showed tremendous ability and potential if they were to appear in a college workshop. (If I had taught her in an introductory writing class, I would have loved her work and, green with envy, hated her precocious talent.) But there are a lot of very weak pieces in here, too. Keegan is just so damn young. She has a lot of s In a perfect world, this book would have never been published because Marina Keegan wouldn't have died at age 22. There were a few decent stories and essays in here--writing that showed tremendous ability and potential if they were to appear in a college workshop. (If I had taught her in an introductory writing class, I would have loved her work and, green with envy, hated her precocious talent.) But there are a lot of very weak pieces in here, too. Keegan is just so damn young. She has a lot of silly ideas that, given 5 years of life beyond her incredibly privileged upbringing and education, she would have grown out of. And I genuinely believe that she would have become a prolific and successful writer. All that being said, I never would have picked this up if not for my book club. I rushed through it with the occasional groan and many wistful sighs about the stories Keegan should have gotten the chance to write 10 years from now.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    I thought The Opposite of Loneliness was an excellent collection of fiction and non-fiction essays by Marina Keegan, a Yale student who died in a car wreck a couple days after she graduated from college. My favorite essay out of the bunch is "Against the Grain" pg 157 where she discusses her Celiac disease and the negative effect that that had on her mother. She expresses frustration with how ridiculously protective her mother became when they were finally able to figure out what was wrong. She ta I thought The Opposite of Loneliness was an excellent collection of fiction and non-fiction essays by Marina Keegan, a Yale student who died in a car wreck a couple days after she graduated from college. My favorite essay out of the bunch is "Against the Grain" pg 157 where she discusses her Celiac disease and the negative effect that that had on her mother. She expresses frustration with how ridiculously protective her mother became when they were finally able to figure out what was wrong. She talks about being embarrassed at holidays as her mom cooked separate pies just for her or at field trips when her mother brought along special snacks. But then, she reveals how she saw an internet article about how having Celiac disease could negatively effect the fetus when the sufferer becomes pregnant and it's a light bulb moment for Marina. She suddenly understands that feeling, how she would do anything to protect that other person, her baby, and suddenly her mom's behavior doesn't seem all that crazy after all. Of course, the absolutely heartbreaking moment for the reader is realizing that this particular dream will never come to fruition for Marina. But, the fact that she even had that "ah-ha" moment is so powerful. "My dog let out a small howl, twigs cracked in the woods, and something about the stillness or my state of mind reminded me of the world's remarkable capacity to carry on in every place at once." pg 34 I always had that feeling towards the end of the semester during college. You'd work at this frantic pace, not giving a thought about your family or friends at home, then somehow in the lull between the final and actually going home, it would occur to me to wonder how my sisters had been for the last ten weeks or what my high school buddies had been up to. I'd also forgotten that the world "carr(ies) on in every place at once." "I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans." pg 153 I worry about that too. In that essay, Marina is talking about helping to save whales that were beached near her home. She talks about the time, effort, and money that is spent without consideration for the fact that only so many of the whales will actually be saved. Then, when these whale rescuers go home, they do so without a backward glance towards the homeless on the streets, who are just as "beached" as the whales that they've been caring for all day. "You feel like so many people are doing it and talking about it all the time like it's interesting, so you start to wonder if maybe it really is." pg 190. Marine was writing about how 25 percent of Yale graduates go immediately into banking or consulting positions that have absolutely nothing to do with their long term goals, but provide a quick paycheck in the short term. Will they ever realize their dreams? If they make enough money, will they even care? Life is about more than a paycheck. Marine Keegan knew that and her life had barely begun. If you enjoyed The Opposite of Loneliness, I'd suggest Cool, Calm & Contentious, an excellent and serious collection of essays about life, or Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt, a comedic collection of essays about life that are surprisingly insightful. Thanks for reading!

  11. 5 out of 5

    emma

    one time i was reading this in the hallway before high school started, and my AP english teacher (who we called "the business pirate" due to his overall aesthetic) stopped me to ask what i was reading. he asked me what it was about and i said it was the collected stories of a very promising writer who had died tragically and unexpectedly in a car accident just after graduating from Yale, to which he replied that that must make a very interesting theme for the stories. so it is thus that i have be one time i was reading this in the hallway before high school started, and my AP english teacher (who we called "the business pirate" due to his overall aesthetic) stopped me to ask what i was reading. he asked me what it was about and i said it was the collected stories of a very promising writer who had died tragically and unexpectedly in a car accident just after graduating from Yale, to which he replied that that must make a very interesting theme for the stories. so it is thus that i have been cursed for the last six years to wonder whether my AP english teacher knows how and when he will die, and just assumes everyone else knows too. besides the overall memorable quality that haunting interaction lended this story, this is very memorable in and of itself. it's an excellent collection and i want to reread it and it's a huge loss for us all that marina keegan will not have a prolific literary career. this is part of a project i am doing where i review books i read a long time ago, and also spend a lot of time reflecting on high school.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lesa Parnham

    I DON'T READ SHORT STORIES-EVER. I have to admit that I bought this book with my Kindle because I heard of the tragic accident that cost Marina's life. Some of the reviews said that this book was published because Marina was an upper class girl. So? She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yale, can't do that with money alone. Some people dismissed this as a Young Adult book "that only appealed to people the same age as Marina. I am a 52 year old housewife, and I saw many stories and essays that appea I DON'T READ SHORT STORIES-EVER. I have to admit that I bought this book with my Kindle because I heard of the tragic accident that cost Marina's life. Some of the reviews said that this book was published because Marina was an upper class girl. So? She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yale, can't do that with money alone. Some people dismissed this as a Young Adult book "that only appealed to people the same age as Marina. I am a 52 year old housewife, and I saw many stories and essays that appealed to me and would be interesting for people my age and beyond. My favorite story was "Winter Break" as it is rather close to the bone between my daughter and myself. The Opposite of Loneliness, when knowing the circumstances of the book is breathtaking. In some of the essays, Marina refers to how bright the future is going to be and how much she looks forward to the things she will accomplish. This book is something she did accomplish, Marina's life is held between the covers of this book. We mourn because there will be no more. But we rejoice that we have a little glimpse into the mind of Marina Keegan. This book is stunning.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    I give this a solid 3.5/5 stars. BOOKTUBEATHON BOOK #6 IS DONE! I enjoyed this book but wasn't profoundly impacted by it. There were a few fiction stories and a few essays that gripped me and left me wanting more, but overall they were just enjoyable to read. Not amazing, not profound, not too much, just enjoyable. I do think Marina was a great writer and obviously we don't know what she would have become, but these aren't as epic and profound as I was expecting them to be? I dunno. I read bad and I give this a solid 3.5/5 stars. BOOKTUBEATHON BOOK #6 IS DONE! I enjoyed this book but wasn't profoundly impacted by it. There were a few fiction stories and a few essays that gripped me and left me wanting more, but overall they were just enjoyable to read. Not amazing, not profound, not too much, just enjoyable. I do think Marina was a great writer and obviously we don't know what she would have become, but these aren't as epic and profound as I was expecting them to be? I dunno. I read bad and good things about this book before I started and I think I just fall somewhere in the middle. It wasn't the worst, it wasn't the best, but it ewe a good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I don't think I could just not give this book five stars. I started reading it at work one day, and I couldn't put it down. I got attached to pretty much every story and its characters and I absolutely loved the nonfiction section as well. Overall, this is fantastic and I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone and everyone. I don't think I could just not give this book five stars. I started reading it at work one day, and I couldn't put it down. I got attached to pretty much every story and its characters and I absolutely loved the nonfiction section as well. Overall, this is fantastic and I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone and everyone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Similar to the publication of Go Set a Watchman, the relevance of The Opposite of Loneliness raises a lot of interesting questions. Would this collection have been published if not for Marina Keegan's death? What if she had not attended Yale? How much did her privilege play a part as opposed to her talent? I do not ask these questions to mitigate the tragedy of her all-too-early passing, just to stimulate thought surrounding this book's publication overall. Those inquiries aside, I enjoyed Keegan Similar to the publication of Go Set a Watchman, the relevance of The Opposite of Loneliness raises a lot of interesting questions. Would this collection have been published if not for Marina Keegan's death? What if she had not attended Yale? How much did her privilege play a part as opposed to her talent? I do not ask these questions to mitigate the tragedy of her all-too-early passing, just to stimulate thought surrounding this book's publication overall. Those inquiries aside, I enjoyed Keegan's short stories and her essays. While I found a few pieces bland or under-developed, almost all of them show great potential. Her vivacity and idealism resonated with me the most. She makes her characters intriguing and honest as opposed to just sophisticated, and her nonfiction shows her range of interests and ideas. While I cannot say I will remember too much from reading her work, I will recall certain thoughts and emotions, like Yale's unfortunate propensity for producing business folk, as well as one of her character's guilt over the death of her romantic fling. Overall, recommended for those searching for some quick reading material by an author with a heartbreaking backstory. It saddens me that we will not have the opportunity to see Keegan develop even further as a writer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I guess one of the coolest things about growing up is that you suddenly have tons of important things to say and people actually listen to you. At age 22 I feel like I’m on the cusp. Of what, I don’t know. To where, I don’t know either. But it’s this fantastic feeling, indescribable really; if I tried, I’d say it’s how you feel after you’ve stepped off a diving board but before you hit the water. Light in the air, but heavy with gravity. Marina Keegan died at age 22. Her feet never hit the water I guess one of the coolest things about growing up is that you suddenly have tons of important things to say and people actually listen to you. At age 22 I feel like I’m on the cusp. Of what, I don’t know. To where, I don’t know either. But it’s this fantastic feeling, indescribable really; if I tried, I’d say it’s how you feel after you’ve stepped off a diving board but before you hit the water. Light in the air, but heavy with gravity. Marina Keegan died at age 22. Her feet never hit the water. But she left behind more than a dozen essays and stories that capture that cuspy young adult feeling better than anything I’ve read before. Throughout The Opposite of Loneliness I had the wonderful privilege to see many of my current hopes and joys and anxieties recounted by a peer because for the first time, my generation is old enough to represent itself. No longer must we suffer the apocalyptic announcements of 50-year-old writers condemning us Millenials for our flightiness and inattention. We are on the cusp, we own the cusp, and we have the right to describe it. And that’s what Marina does. Reading her essays is like a conversation, but instead of talking at you or about you, she talks with you. There’s the title essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, that highlights her unique ability to live a 22-year-old’s life but reflect upon it with the wisdom of a much older person: We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time…What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Other standout essays include Stability in Motion, an ode to the modern teenager’s sanctuary—her first car and all the memories made in it, and Song for the Special, an honest admission of the crushing jealousies that haunt a generation of kids told that they were better than normal, destined for awards, success, and celebrity. Her short stories are even better. The Emerald City is a modern epistolary, a one-sided email chain from a young architect who has fallen from his cusp and finds himself in Iraq, consciously callow and outside his element, which makes his surprising fate even more devastating. Reading Aloud is very mature; it reminded me of an Alice Munro story called Wenlock Edge that I read last year in her collection Too Much Happiness. The masterpiece, however, is the first story Cold Pastoral. Claire, a college student, must decide how much to care when a not-quite-but-almost-boyfriend unexpectedly dies. It asks questions that belong to our generation, like what are the consequences of fleeting, are we or aren’t we relationships? And how can we forge meaningful connections if life is a constant attempt to act casual? In its scant 24 pages I was alternately charmed and horrified by how shockingly honest it was. In the title essay Marina asks if we have a word for the opposite of loneliness. I say yes, yes we do, and it’s writers like her, writers who express what everyone else around their age is thinking, that give us that feeling, the opposite of loneliness.

  17. 4 out of 5

    emily

    God. Tragic story of the author aside, these short stories and essays were beautiful. I loved them with all my heart. Marina's writing had so much passion and love and life behind it. Everything she wrote felt so exposing and honest. I haven't loved a book like this is a while. I will be going back and rereading her pieces for a long time. The tragic story of Marina's death.....jesus. It did and did not affect the way I read this. My opinion of her writing as nothing to do with the fact that she God. Tragic story of the author aside, these short stories and essays were beautiful. I loved them with all my heart. Marina's writing had so much passion and love and life behind it. Everything she wrote felt so exposing and honest. I haven't loved a book like this is a while. I will be going back and rereading her pieces for a long time. The tragic story of Marina's death.....jesus. It did and did not affect the way I read this. My opinion of her writing as nothing to do with the fact that she is no long here; I would have still loved this if she were alive today. There were some lines, though, that hit me in the gut, knowing that she wrote this with no knowledge of how young she was going to leave this world. Those moments were quite jarring. And I cry because she was such an amazing writer and this is all we get to hear from her.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    All right, well, I was skeptical about this book from the start, and this passage, five lines in, didn't help matters:A student stood up. Thin. Beautiful. Long, reddish-brown hair. Long legs. Flagrantly short skirt.I couldn't help but think, what if that passage said, "Chubby. Bad skin. Short, mousy-brown hair. Long baggy black T-shirt and cargo pants"? Would you still want to read this book? Would it have even been published? It's no accident that the cover of this book features a professional- All right, well, I was skeptical about this book from the start, and this passage, five lines in, didn't help matters:A student stood up. Thin. Beautiful. Long, reddish-brown hair. Long legs. Flagrantly short skirt.I couldn't help but think, what if that passage said, "Chubby. Bad skin. Short, mousy-brown hair. Long baggy black T-shirt and cargo pants"? Would you still want to read this book? Would it have even been published? It's no accident that the cover of this book features a professional-quality photo of the author herself. There's nothing U.S. culture loves more than the tragedy of the beautiful, young, dead girl. If you don't believe me, consult any number of movies, "thriller" novels, and crime TV shows, and look at what crimes the national news focuses on. And if you find those last two sentences offensive, well, I assure you, I'm offended too. But none of this is Marina Keegan's fault, of course, and her death is a tragedy, and while I'm sure some of the people who got involved in the publication of this book did so for cynical reasons, I'm equally sure that there were many more who did so because they genuinely believed Marina's writing deserved to be out there in the world. So I approached this book with an open mind. I realize I can be so opinionated that it may be hard to believe I approach any book with an open mind, but honestly, I am always, always, always open to being surprised, pleasantly or otherwise, and I'm always hoping that I'll enjoy what I read, even if it means all my doubts are proved wrong. I love being proved wrong, actually. I wanted this book to prove me wrong. Things started off well. I enjoyed and was impressed by the first two short stories, "Cold Pastoral" and "Winter Break." These made me realize how few pieces of quality fiction we have about college students that are actually written by college students. Most such pieces stay confined to college literary magazines and portfolios for MFA applications, and in most cases that's probably wise, but these two stories made me realize that we're probably missing out on some fresh perspectives. "Cold Pastoral" and "Winter Break" would not have been out of place in pretty much any literary journal you could name. It was all downhill from there, unfortunately. The other stories featuring young people were unconvincing to me, and the ones about older people just didn't work at all--her 60-year-olds and 40-year-olds all read like 20-year-olds to me. I appreciate that Marina was experimenting and trying out new viewpoints, but it's obvious that these weren't really meant for national publication by a major publisher, and in a way it's a bit unfair that they're now subject to that kind of scrutiny, because they just don't hold up under it, in my opinion. As for the essays, they were all well-written but nothing special. I feel like my own writing as a college student was at least as good, in spite of (or perhaps because of) my not having the levels of privilege Marina had. There are probably students all over the U.S. who can write just as well, but we're not particularly interested in their work, because ... well, see paragraph #1 above. I did enjoy the essay "Even Artichokes Have Doubts"--I had no knowledge of the recruiting that consulting and finance firms do on Ivy League campuses, so that was interesting, and she made some good points. I was also struck by Marina's seeming obsession with the fact that the sun is going to burn out one day--no matter how good a job we do with saving the environment, with archiving things for posterity, ultimately one day none of it is going to matter. This felt really poignant to me--I wonder, with all sincerity, if she would have been so concerned with this if she knew how her own story was going to end. But she was no nihilist-- even at her young age, Marina was obviously aware that because we don't have all the time in the world, we need to always be seizing the moment and making the most of it. So I can see why this book was published, and I think its ideal audience is high school and college students, who'll see themselves in this book in more ways than one. Marina was clearly devoted to the idea of a purposeful life, of not defaulting into a particular existence just because it's easiest or because you want to be like everyone else or because you can't think of anything else to do, and that's a great lesson for young people to absorb. I do think that Marina would have been a fantastic writer if given more time, and it's sad that this is all we'll ever get from her, but if these writings inspire people to live their own lives more fully, we can't ask for more than that.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The danger with a posthumous collection like this is that its value will be purely sentimental: you feel sorry for what happened to the author, so are willing to overlook deficiencies in the writing. Let me reassure you, though: this is top-notch work; no caveats required. Surprisingly, the collection’s short stories, deeply thoughtful and relevant, are almost better than the essays (nine of each), and certainly on par with debuts by writers a decade Keegan’s senior. The best stories are clearly The danger with a posthumous collection like this is that its value will be purely sentimental: you feel sorry for what happened to the author, so are willing to overlook deficiencies in the writing. Let me reassure you, though: this is top-notch work; no caveats required. Surprisingly, the collection’s short stories, deeply thoughtful and relevant, are almost better than the essays (nine of each), and certainly on par with debuts by writers a decade Keegan’s senior. The best stories are clearly autobiographical, narrated in the first person by a college student. Keegan was also on the way to becoming a successful essayist in the vein of David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen. As her tutor Anne Fadiman insists, “Marina wouldn’t want to be remembered because she’s dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good.” Luckily, on the evidence of The Opposite of Loneliness, she’s damn good – and worth remembering. (See my full review at For Books’ Sake.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chihoe Ho

    "I'm young. I'm fine." This is the invincibility most young people think about themselves. But when it comes down to it, we really know that it isn't the case. Life can be a tricky maneuver and change in the blink of an eye. Life, while long and filled with optimistic hope, can just be as short and littered with shattered promises. You understand that from the life of Marina Keegan, tragically cut short by a car accident five days after her graduation from Yale, just as much as you sense it exud "I'm young. I'm fine." This is the invincibility most young people think about themselves. But when it comes down to it, we really know that it isn't the case. Life can be a tricky maneuver and change in the blink of an eye. Life, while long and filled with optimistic hope, can just be as short and littered with shattered promises. You understand that from the life of Marina Keegan, tragically cut short by a car accident five days after her graduation from Yale, just as much as you sense it exuding from her words in this collection of essays and stories. These affecting pieces in "The Opposite of Loneliness" are presented with a keen clarity, and offers much to ponder over. Even with the 22 years of her existence, Keegan had managed to articulate herself with such awareness of herself and the world around her. She was self-assured but shared some insecurities; she was sensible beyond her years but still was learning as she matured. Think of the experiences she could have had that would have furthered her writing! Yes, and no, we shouldn't dwell and lament over the loss but celebrate what she has imparted to us. This is a voice of a generation, one that will continue to inspire countless. "Marina wouldn't want to be remembered because she's dead. She would want to be remembered because she's good." Great, will she always be.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    4.5***** rounded up! Do you want to leave soon? No, I want enough time to be in love with everything…. And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short. I devoured this book in two sittings: it was beautiful and special. This book was published posthomously and features essays and short stories by Marina Keegan- an ambitious and young writer whose life was cut short. This book was divided into her fiction and non-fiction works, with quotes from poems she had wrote as well. Her short stories 4.5***** rounded up! Do you want to leave soon? No, I want enough time to be in love with everything…. And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short. I devoured this book in two sittings: it was beautiful and special. This book was published posthomously and features essays and short stories by Marina Keegan- an ambitious and young writer whose life was cut short. This book was divided into her fiction and non-fiction works, with quotes from poems she had wrote as well. Her short stories and non-fiction was engaging and impactful. It explored the lives, mainly, of women; especially the messiness of it (some of her stories featured make MC’s too). Her stories are contemporary and take inspiration from the here and now- and I loved her exploration and contemplation of these characters emotions and thoughts. Her prose is stunning and kept me engaged. Her non-fiction was equally as engaging: from her life as a coeliac and what this entailed, to Tommy the exterminator, and her criticising the poaching of big bank/finance firms to Yale students. All of these were equally engaging as her fiction works. To read the introduction and remembrance of Marina Keegan, published by two of her teachers/professors was deeply impactful. It is clear from what they have wrote that Marina was so many things, an impactful person in her own right, and had accomplished so much in her short time on earth. It is also fascinating to read how her writing has impacted fellow readers. After reading this amazing book of work, I am keen to hunt down some of the authors other essays, poems, etc. that have been published online.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Like most collections of short stories/essays, some were significantly stronger than others. In general, the nonfiction > the fiction. I'll review this in my May wrap up! :) Like most collections of short stories/essays, some were significantly stronger than others. In general, the nonfiction > the fiction. I'll review this in my May wrap up! :)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kai Spellmeier

    "Stranded humans don't roll in with the tide - they hide in corners and the concrete houses and the plains of exotic countries we've never heard of, dying of diseases we can't pronounce." Great ideas, good writing, melancholy, humor and sometimes boredom make this 3.5 out of 5 stars. Find more of my books on Instagram "Stranded humans don't roll in with the tide - they hide in corners and the concrete houses and the plains of exotic countries we've never heard of, dying of diseases we can't pronounce." Great ideas, good writing, melancholy, humor and sometimes boredom make this 3.5 out of 5 stars. Find more of my books on Instagram

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Marina Keegan died five days after graduating from Yale, destined for a job at the New Yorker. Many people have read her title essay in the Yale Daily News, which reads more like a student commencement address. It's important to view this collection for what it is. Marina was an undergraduate, only an undergraduate. Her writing doesn't even have the telltale signs of an MFA (probably for he best) and it sounds young, but she was young. Compare it to other writers her age and I think there are poc Marina Keegan died five days after graduating from Yale, destined for a job at the New Yorker. Many people have read her title essay in the Yale Daily News, which reads more like a student commencement address. It's important to view this collection for what it is. Marina was an undergraduate, only an undergraduate. Her writing doesn't even have the telltale signs of an MFA (probably for he best) and it sounds young, but she was young. Compare it to other writers her age and I think there are pockets of really good moments. It is strange for a writer her age to be published, and surely her death and very devoted parents/teachers are the only reasons this collection was able to be pulled together. She did not provide her consent nor did she have an opportunity to weigh in on what was included, how it was presented, or how it was edited. Most writers would be horrified at being left out of that process but of course, she had no choice. The writings are divided into two sections - fiction and non-fiction. While many of the works of fiction are a realistic capture of people she knew, probably her own experiences fictionalized with a few experiments in style, I found more to like in the non-fiction section. My two favorites are "Stability in Motion," about her grandmother's car that she inherited and then passed on to her brother; "Why We Care About Whales" shows more of the potential for true beauty in her writing, and is my favorite. Two of Marina's poems are included in the book as introductions to sections and I would have liked to see more of them. ETA: This book was discussed on Episode 030 of the Reading Envy Podcast.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    “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.” This is the beginning sentence from The Opposite of Loneliness, a collected work by Marina Keegan, compromised of fiction and non-fiction, and one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. Marina Keegan was a Yale-graduate that died a few days after her graduation, and was known among the university as an author, playwright, journalist, poet, and probably more. So you will so “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.” This is the beginning sentence from The Opposite of Loneliness, a collected work by Marina Keegan, compromised of fiction and non-fiction, and one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. Marina Keegan was a Yale-graduate that died a few days after her graduation, and was known among the university as an author, playwright, journalist, poet, and probably more. So you will sometimes hear the comment: “the book is only good because people feel sad about her life and don’t want to say anything bad about it so they don’t sound like the Grinch.” Will someone say that of The Diary of Anne Frank? Of course not, because such a book was great whether the person died or not. Their death did not define them as authors, but it did bring them into the light. Vincent van Gogh was not popular on his time, and it was not until many years later, and after his tragic death that people realized his beauty. Sadly, sometimes people do not get the recognition they deserve until they have departed. Anyways, let us move on to the content of the book. One of her teachers wrote of her in the book: “Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience, which they fear trivial, and on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects that being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful.” And I was able to agree with this professor, because I read what she wrote, and I have read other pieces by young people as well, but hers held a sort of truth that I did not expect to find. For her non-fiction she writes: “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.” And “We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” And I can say that even though I am not yet a university graduate I felt inspired by her words, they felt more true to me that when I read “The Last Lecture” and “Make Good Art” and even, “We Should all be Feminists”, no matter how much I also enjoyed those books. I recommended her“The Opposite of Loneliness” to as many friends as I could, so that they would not feel disheartening, and would tell me what they believed the first phrase stood for. It held a different meaning to all of us, but there was always a string tying us together, hope. But her fiction was better, and for that I consider her a good observer of human condition, because she writes from her perspective, from envying someone because they have their lives figured out to college kids being in this limbo between sounding to young or too old. But she does not rely on her perspective alone, but on the perspective of a soldier in Iraq, a hypochondriac ballerina, and even an exterminator. She speaks of beginning and ending friendships, discovering love, looking at your parent’s togetherness fade when there is not a “children’s glue” to keep them together. Her fiction made me think so much about my life, I adored her stories, particularly “Cold Pastoral” which was published in the New Yorker and speaks of a woman and a man and how their relationship was seen by each other and hidden from one another. I highly recommend it, and it is free, so go and read it. As soon as I finished the library copy I had borrowed I waited for an opportunity to buy this book for myself, and when I did, I re-read it and then annotated it. That is how much I loved it, enough to fill it with notes and bent pages.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*

    "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 was a brilliant and beautiful young woman whose life was cut tragically short only five days after graduating from Yale. This book collects some of her work, both fiction and nonfiction, in a way that highlights the beauty and poignancy of her spirit. I freaking dare you to read this book and not cry. Go on. Try it. I bet you will be bawling withi "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 was a brilliant and beautiful young woman whose life was cut tragically short only five days after graduating from Yale. This book collects some of her work, both fiction and nonfiction, in a way that highlights the beauty and poignancy of her spirit. I freaking dare you to read this book and not cry. Go on. Try it. I bet you will be bawling within the first three pages. I know I was. And despite the heaviness that lies on these pages due to the knowledge of her untimely death, that wasn't why I cried so hard and so much while reading this. It was because Marina literally was a truly beautiful person both inside and out, and that is shown so vividly through her writing. You can practically feel her positive energy and hopeful spirit as you read her words. This is a fantastic book. "I will live for love and the rest will take care of itself."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This book is now one of my favorite books of all time. The writing is impeccable. Seriously. She was a genius with words. I felt so invested in the characters' lives, even in such short stories. I felt like I knew exactly how they were feeling even in situations I could not necessarily relate to. Her essays are smart, humorous, and wickedly on point. Basically, one of the most perfect books I have read in a long time. Highly, highly recommend. 5/5 This book is now one of my favorite books of all time. The writing is impeccable. Seriously. She was a genius with words. I felt so invested in the characters' lives, even in such short stories. I felt like I knew exactly how they were feeling even in situations I could not necessarily relate to. Her essays are smart, humorous, and wickedly on point. Basically, one of the most perfect books I have read in a long time. Highly, highly recommend. 5/5

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    4.5/5 stars(I couldn't give it a full five star rating because I loved Marina's non-fiction so much better than her fiction, and I wish I could have read more of that). 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. A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Marina Evelyn Keegan was an American author, playwright, journalist, actress and poet. She is best known for her essay The Opposite of Loneliness, which went viral and was viewed over 1.4 4.5/5 stars(I couldn't give it a full five star rating because I loved Marina's non-fiction so much better than her fiction, and I wish I could have read more of that). 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. A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Marina Evelyn Keegan was an American author, playwright, journalist, actress and poet. She is best known for her essay The Opposite of Loneliness, which went viral and was viewed over 1.4 million times in ninety-eight different countries after her death in a car crash just five days after she graduated magna cum laude from Yale University. THE MANY REASONS I CRIED Do you know what the opposite of loneliness is? Do you? Come to think of it, what IS the opposite of loneliness really? I picked up this book today, rather impulsively and randomly, after seeing a review of it on my feed-Thank you so much, Liz. I couldn't even wait until I got home to read it, I wanted to know, what did Marina have to say? What did she leave behind? So I sat in the nearest park I could find and I read it. And after I was done, I sat in that same park and cried like I had pieces of broken glass stuck in my foot, like the world would never be right again. I cried and cried and cried because I pictured myself in the eyes of those in the park with me, and I knew I looked a terrible sight, but I needed emptying and I was far from home- I cried because I couldn't even have the comfort of crying without subjecting myself to the wary eyes of onlookers. I didn't even allow myself the privilege of keeping my blow fish face all to myself. And don't stay it's okay because it's not. Nothing about a girl in the prime of her youth- tipping with bold and beautiful and lingering words in her heart and on her lips-dying is okay. I cried my tear ducts out and I didn't know how to do it gracefully. I cried because she gets got me and she's nowhere to be found in the world, not anymore. I cried because even if I wish to meet her someday -and I do-it will never be possible. I cried for all the words that will never be. I cried because I didn't think it possible for anyone to attach words to the way I feel on most days, in a manner so accurate and meaningful : We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out—that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it: already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck. Yes. I cried for a girl I never knew. I cried because her words told me she knew love and goodness and all the grave uncertainties and misfortunes that come with life, and yet she believed in it still, wanted to live through it and give something back to it. That's the kind of soul I want to shed tears for. Everyone thinks they’re special—my grandma for her Marlboro commercials, my parents for discos and the moon. You can be anything, they tell us. No one else is quite like you. But I searched my name on Facebook and got eight tiny pictures staring back. The Marina Keegans with their little hometowns and relationship statuses. When we die, our gravestones will match. HERE LIES MARINA KEEGAN, they will say. Numbers one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. I’m so jealous. Laughable jealousies, jealousies of everyone who might get a chance to speak from the dead. But I feel like I should celebrate her words, be happy and thankful for them for the gift that they are. That I can and will do.

  29. 5 out of 5

    TL

    Is there much more to be said then what has been said and talked about already? Initially, I heard about this book through Goodreads but at the time didn't give it much thought. Forgot all about it till it randomly popped up on my radar again not too long ago. On impulse, I checked to see if my library had it since I would be near there to see a movie that day (yesterday actually). They did have a copy so I figured, why not? The stories and essays in here were of varying interest/quality to me. No Is there much more to be said then what has been said and talked about already? Initially, I heard about this book through Goodreads but at the time didn't give it much thought. Forgot all about it till it randomly popped up on my radar again not too long ago. On impulse, I checked to see if my library had it since I would be near there to see a movie that day (yesterday actually). They did have a copy so I figured, why not? The stories and essays in here were of varying interest/quality to me. Now before anyone gets offended, this is more a matter of my personal taste than anything else. Some in this book appealed to me more than others did, while a couple I really didn't care for (If you want to see my individual ratings for each one, check my status updates). I won't be reviewing each individual story but overall I was fairly engaged with Marina's writing. It's not perfect, but still very good overall. You can see the potential there in each installment. A few years down the road as she refined her skills, I could see her being a success in the Writing field. This will sound over-said perhaps but her voices comes through wonderfully in here and if she were still around, I would have loved to meet her and just talk :) While I enjoyed her essays, her fiction was my favorite of the sections... again, personal for me more than anything. While there were a couple I would read again, most fell into the "I enjoyed this but wouldn't read it again" while a couple fell into the "a second read would have them grow on me" Overall 3-3.5 stars with 4 stars in places. Would I recommend? Not sure but check it out and decide for yourself :) ---- Review spotlights that say it so well: Katherine's review (amazing review, our opinions don't line up on everything but it's all good ;-P.) Lindy Loo's review Hank Stuever's review

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I knew before I started listening to this that the author of these short stories and essays had been killed in a car accident just days after graduating from Yale. She had a job lined up at The New Yorker. Even though I knew this, I teared up while the forward was being read. She was already a good writer and she never got the chance to hone her talent. I enjoyed the short stories more than the essays. I found my mind wandering once in a while. I think if I had read it rather than listening to a I knew before I started listening to this that the author of these short stories and essays had been killed in a car accident just days after graduating from Yale. She had a job lined up at The New Yorker. Even though I knew this, I teared up while the forward was being read. She was already a good writer and she never got the chance to hone her talent. I enjoyed the short stories more than the essays. I found my mind wandering once in a while. I think if I had read it rather than listening to audio maybe that wouldn't have happened. All-in-all I enjoyed this and would recommend to readers who enjoy short stories and essays. (If you want to read an excellent review of this, look up my GR friend Heidi's!)

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