Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Here's the desription from Goodreads:
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.

This was kind of a hard book to read.  Keegan died just days after graduating college, and these essays and short stories are all being published posthumously.  I think knowing that made me look at the stories and essays differently.  There are many times when Keegan writes about what her future may hold, and it was heartbreaking knowing that none of what she wished for would come to pass.

She was definitely a talented writer.  I connected really well with this collection.  Keegan and I are from the same generation, born the same year.  So the topics and themes of most of the stories and essays are things I personally can relate to.  Things like becoming an adult, and wondering what you're going to do with your life.  It makes me think on my own life and what I had imagined doing as a child, because I sure didn't picture myself sitting at a cubicle at a technology company (gotta pay those bills though!).

My favorite piece from the collection was an essay she wrote about her first car and the memories it holds.  I've only ever had 1 car, my beautiful silver Saab, which I shared with my twin sister for 4 years before it officially became mine.  And I love that car.  So much.  It's messy and needs to be cleaned out and vaccuumed so badly, and I've put so much money into repairs that I really should just get a new car.  But I'm running that thing into the ground.  And Keegan's story about her own car just clicked with me.  I loved it.

From reading this collection, I can honestly say that Keegan would have written great things if she was still around.  These pieces were fantastic, especially the essays, and it is sad to think of what else she could have given us.  I definitely recommend The Opposite of Loneliness, especially for young college grads or current students.  Keegan hits a note that I think is close to home for us.

Title: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
Author: Marina Keegan
Date of Publication: April 8th, 2014
Number of Pages: 224
Genre: Short stories and essays
Source: Netgalley

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