‘We‘re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.’
Marina Keegan was an a ambitious graduate, ready for life’s challenges and full of hope for the future. Just a few days after publishing her final piece in the Yale Daily News, she tragically died in a car accident. This book is a collection of her work put together posthumously by friends and family, and includes her final essay The Opposite of Loneliness.
The writing is emotive and will awaken long-forgotten aspirations in readers of any age. With strong messages such as ‘…we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…’, Marina makes you want to get up and achieve something.
The essays focus on small observations, big thoughts and personal experiences. My favourite, Stability in Motion, is a piece about Marina’s first car, which has delightful descriptions such as, ‘The messiness crept up on me. Parts of my life began falling off, forming eclectic debris that dribbled gradually into every corner’.
Covering subjects such as love, lust, jealousy and death, the short stories are written with remarkable depth and insight. Whether the setting is the suffocating darkness at the bottom of the ocean or a college campus, Marina writes convincingly. Most memorable for me is Winter Break which tells of a visit home for a narrator who would prefer to spend time smoking weed with her boyfriend. In only a few pages Marina captures so much of the awkward family dynamic and the guilt that comes with growing apart.
It’s the opening and closing essays of the collection that are most poignant. Song for the Special in which Marina writes about her jealousies, about how she has learned the German word ‘schadenfreude’ and about the inevitability of death and destruction, brings the book to a particularity moving end. ‘…someday the sun is going to die and everything on Earth will freeze. This will happen… Everything will be destroyed no matter how hard we work to create it. The idea terrifies me. I want tiny permanents. I want gigantic permanents!’
It’s impossible to forget about Marina’s untimely death while reading, making The Opposite of Loneliness all the more powerful. It’s the sort of book that will send shivers down you spine and bring a tear to your eye.
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