Five days after graduating from Yale, Marina Keegan died in a car crash. Her essay “The Opposite of Loneliness” went viral with over a million hits, and her friends and family decided to collect her essays and stories to continue her track to stardom despite her tragic and untimely death. From fiction to fact, she writes about the universal struggles of the younger generation, commenting on the impossibility of being unique and the uncertainty of adulthood.
Oh my gosh, this book is beautiful. I’ve previously complained about my hatred for short stories, but I think that hardened hatred is cracking ever so quickly. If you can hit me this hard with such few words, than how can I genuinely continue to dislike short stories?
It began with fiction, and I was definitely worried I wouldn’t like the stories. But each one was so thought-provoking and unique. The stories were different very different from most other things I read. Each story focused on small things– routines and futures and everything in between.
Okay, before I begin, I cheated and read a couple reviews about the book, and I must say, I think they may influence my review now. I’ll first go over my initial thoughts and then take you guys through my aftermath thoughts.
Alright. So. Basically Keegan has wrapped up everything I ever think about somewhat deeply in a neat little bow. She wrapped it in beautiful words and intricate passages and her voice is loud and clear: we’re young, full of possibilities, and we mustn’t underestimate this generation. She’s somehow worded all these thoughts in a way that makes complete sense. Some of these sentences practically had me rallying. I was ready to stand and cheer and run out of the house and find something to do, to accomplish, to change. Her writing is so genuine, written by a girl who feels deeply and understands the world and its people.
The most inspirational works in the book were the essays, which definitely resulted in a slew of quotes written up and down my arms. My favorite:
“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.”
She articulates all the feelings of all this generation into these essays. They’re almost heart-breaking because they’re all too true. I sat there and read and nodded along with everything she was saying. She uses capitalization to emphasis, and I think this also emphasizes her age. She doesn’t have to be a middle-aged author shut up in their office with a laptop and a coffee. She’s a young adult trying to understand the world by shouting and questioning and writing about anything she thinks is interesting.
Then there’s the fiction, which I found very different, but that may be because I usually read young adult or classic literature. She wrote about the smallest, most insignificant routines with such feeling and reality that I could relate to an elderly woman and a blind man. Each tidbit made me pausing and wondering and flipping page after page. Her style is beautiful and smooth, but I guess that’s the Yale talking.
And that brings me to the other reviews. Readers are pointing at college writing workshops and saying the only reason the book has made it to popularity is the tragedy effect.
Now, for my thoughts on this. I think it’s partially true. I loved the short stories, but I do think they have big similarities with other college writing or adult literature. I think the essays are entirely real, though, despite her unfortunate death leading to their popularity.
I think Keegan’s ideas are used and worn– by the younger generation. She embodies their thoughts; she turns them into beauty and pages and sums up everything with a couple very true passages. Her ideas are ones that everyone has, but she was finally the voice that could understand and interpret them into writing.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s different and stylized and lovely. I recommend the book, especially for those young adults and teens who stay up all night contemplating the meaning of life, the hopes of greatness, and the importance of the present.