The Opposite of Loneliness: A Review

After recently graduating from university, people are always asking me:
“What have I got planned?”
“Where will I go from here?”
Marina Keegan’s book The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories helps things stop feeling so overwhelming, because by the way she talks about the future, she understands.

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.”

Whilst browsing through online articles I found a link to an article called “a list of books to read when you graduate,” and Marina’s book was on the list. While the book sounded interesting, that wasn’t what drew me to it. It was the story behind the book that filled me with the intense need to read this book.

Marina Keegan graduated from Yale in 2012, and was already set to have quite the bright future. She had a job lined up at the New Yorker, and a play she wrote was about to be produced. However, five days after graduation she died in a car crash on her way to meet her parents. Her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel and Marina didn’t survive. It was around this time that her incredible final essay for the Yale Daily News, ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’ went viral and received over 1.4 million hits. Marina’s family and friends put together a collection of her works in her memory, because Marina was able to perfectly articulate the internal struggles that we all face every day as we attempt to figure out what we aspire to be.

Marina Keegan wielded her pen with power; her words evoke emotion. They make you feel like you can do anything; sometimes they make you feel guilty for having not done anything. This book made me feel a deep connection to Marina, and it absolutely breaks my heart knowing that the words in this book, these short stories and essays are her only pieces that I’ll ever be fortunate enough to read.

“We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves.”

Whilst I absolutely adored her non-fiction pieces, where you could feel her emotions rising from the pages, I wasn’t completely sold on her short stories. Some of them felt incomplete or were a little too left of centre for me. It felt like there was a crucial piece of backstory that I was missing and that if I had it everything would make sense. The first short story ‘Cold Pastoral’ was my favourite.

Marina Keegan was so full of life, and love. Her essays spoke about the future, and her plans for the future, looking forward to having kids. Reading these made me cry. However, this is an amazing book, I implore others to read this. She makes you want to go and create something amazing for her because she no longer can and because life is short, we don’t know how long we have.

“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.”

5 stars.

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About Mikaela Zarifis

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I live my life amongst the pages of books, with my head in the clouds, and a cup of tea by my side. Recent graduate of Curtin’s Professional Writing and Publishing course. Instagram: @mikaelazarifis