Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Opposite of Loneliness - Marina Keegan Book Review

I received The Opposite of Loneliness as a birthday present and despite having asked for it, I had no idea what it was about. I hold my hands up, I judged a book by it's cover (it's a stunning photo of Marina) and the title but, on this occasion it totally worked in my favour.

Marina Keegan was an author, a playwright, an activist, a poet, an actress and a student at Yale. Her final piece of writing for the Yale Daily News was titled "The Opposite of Loneliness". The article sums up her time at Yale and talks of the pressure to rush and find a job. Marina fights the notion that university are the best years and that the best times of her, and her fellow students lives are over.

"We're so young. We're so young. We're twenty-two years old. We have so much time."

This quote proves to be awfully haunting and tragic as just 5 days after she graduated, Marina was in a fatal car crash. She would never work a day in the job she landed at the New Yorker.

The Opposite of Loneliness opens with a heartbreaking introduction by Marina's former teacher at Yale, acknowledgements from her family and then beautiful pieces of writing by Marina herself, seperated into fiction and non-fiction.I cannot recall being brought to tears and feeling the most inspired I've been in months by an introduction. Marina is painted as a wonderful and greatly loved person, you really get an idea of what her personality was like.

As for her writing, it's just breathtaking. Her ability to write so convincingly from the viewpoint of characters with different genders, ages and backgrounds and on a wide scope of topics shows real talent at any age, but at just 21 is just phenomenal and adds to the horrifying sense of loss and what she may have gone on to achieve had she not passed away.

As someone who has always loved writing and has been to university, I found many of the essays especially inspiring and relatable. Having read this book so close to all the dreadful events that occurred last week (the shooting in Tunisia, the explosion at a water park in Taiwan, the beheading in France etc) it really really made me think.

A recurring thought I have is that one day, I'll be ill on my death bed, riddled not only with disease but with regret for all the days I spent sad. But the story of Marina and the headlines in the news last week were a stark reminder that not everyone is given the privilege of getting old and reflecting on their life with the knowledge that death is imminent and instead are just gone in an instant.

It's really encouraged me to Carpe the shit out of that Diem and I've since created my own "Happiness Project" similar to that in Gretchen Rubin's book to aid me in becoming to be happier, healthier and more grateful person. I've also vowed to start writing fiction again as that's something I used to really enjoy. Who knows, I might even post some on here.

I digressed slightly there but I think it really illustrates the power of this book. It probably won't come as a surprise that I urge you all, particularly any budding writers, lovers of language, recent graduates and/or young adults to get yourself a copy of "The Opposite of Loneliness."

"Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enugh time to be in love with everything...
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short"

What did you think of this book? Have you read any books that resonate these type of thoughts and feelings?
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