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The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan – A Review

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Knowing more about Marina Keegan only makes her book, The Opposite of Loneliness, a more poignant and emotional read. She graduated from Yale in May 2012 and had a bright future ahead of her as a writer. A play of hers was due to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and, straight after graduation, she had a very coveted job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Then, suddenly and sadly, she died in a car crash, just five days after her graduation. She was just 22 years old.

The Opposite of Loneliness is not a novel. It is, instead, a collection of essays and short stories composed and written by Marina Keegan. It was put together by friends and family shortly after her tragic death and published in her memory. It later went viral and was read by over 1.4 million people. What Keegan had had to say was getting communicated, and it was touching people in a very personal and powerful way.

Because it consists of essays and short stories, it is a relatively easy read, with plenty of good places to stop, sit and contemplate what you have just read. It is full of interesting and profound thoughts that make you want to sit for a while once you’ve finished reading one part and just let the messages and themes sink in. It’s the sort of book that you carry around in your bag to read whenever you feel down or worried: it’s full of hopeful messages.

Particularly strongly communicated throughout many of the essays and stories in the book is the sense of possibility, particularly for people of her own or a similar age. Keegan seemed to have had a lot of hope for the growth of her generation and for their helping to create a better world to live in for absolutely everyone. She stresses that we are all capable of great and good things, and that, in order to succeed, all we have to do is put our minds to something and watch ourselves soar. The way she writes makes everything anything seem possible, and it’s a message that definitely needs spreading, particularly now, when the world needs so much help. We just need to inspire people to start getting their hands dirty.

Hope, too, is a key theme of the book, and is captured in many different ways by the various essays and short stories. Because they are all self-contained, the ways in which the theme is explored and developed changes so frequently that it doesn’t get old or stale. Instead, it retains its power, which makes the message much stronger for anyone reading. Her uncertainty, too, that spills through her writing occasionally, makes her seem more human, more approachable, and somehow makes everything seem all the more real. Because of that, her hope seems tangible and real and something that we, the readers, can take a part of. She has left something of herself in her writing, which makes it all the more compelling to read.

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