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The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  35,578 Ratings  ·  3,803 Reviews
An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York Internatio
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Scribner
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Lindy Loo
This book infuriated me. I'm sure it has infuriated others as well, but given the circumstances (and tragic death) of its writer, I suspect most folks feel uncomfortable panning it. So I'll take one for the team and be that asshole. When I jumped into this book, having read its hype, I was expecting to spend a few days in bed, shamed that a 20-something writer could mop the floor with words in a way that I still cannot at 37. Imagine my shock when I realized just the opposite: Had Marina Keegan ...more
I'm torn about this book. On one hand, it's an inspiration: at 22, Marina Keegan clearly had remarkable self-assuredness and work ethic. But her prose isn't particularly inspired and her observations don't feel all that precise or penetrating either. To think that she already had a job lined up at the New Yorker with so much room left to grow in her writing makes me uncomfortable when I know so many young writers with arguably more talent struggling because they don't have the connections (or th ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it

Let's do a good old fashioned pros vs cons:

- A new found enjoyment in non-fiction! Essays are fun!
- When Marina wrote about topics she was really confident in and had first-hand experience with her essays and stories felt so true to life and honest.
- As a writer this book was really inspiring. It made me want to go out and write and share and keep on going!
- THAT OPENING SPEECH, THOUGH. WOW. Golden. Golden! Took my breath away!
- I read this with a friend (hi
Whitney Atkinson
One of the best books i've ever read. Some of the most beautiful writing i've experienced. Some of these quotes gave me chills so bad I had to stop reading. A few of these stories lost my interest, but the ones that blew my mind made up for it. A book that deserves every award and every 5 stars in the world.
Raeleen Lemay
I really enjoyed the first two stories, but the rest of them really fell flat for me. I LOVED the introduction and the speech "The Opposite of Loneliness", but most of the other essays were just fine.

Hank Stuever
I was drawn to this book because of the tragic backstory and also because (this is a little embarrassing) I'm trying to understand the so-called millennial generation a little better than I think I do; there are noticeable differences, many of them rooted in stereotype.

Anne Fadiman, who wrote one of my favorite books ever ("The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"), writes a beautiful introduction here about her student, Marina Keegan, and Marina's tragic death five days after graduation and so
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Wow these essays were beautiful. There are definitely a few I will go back to in the future and reread
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection reads like what it is: the work of the most talented person in an undergrad writing class.
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
In a perfect world, this book would have never been published because Marina Keegan wouldn't have died at age 22.

There were a few decent stories and essays in here--writing that showed tremendous ability and potential if they were to appear in a college workshop. (If I had taught her in an introductory writing class, I would have loved her work and, green with envy, hated her precocious talent.)

But there are a lot of very weak pieces in here, too. Keegan is just so damn young. She has a lot of s
"We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility, because in the end, it's all we have."

Overall Rating: 2.7 out of 5 stars

Before the haters drink their Haterade and troll me for being an unfeeling asshole, HEAR ME OUT.

First of all, think what happened to Marina Keegan is absolutely tragic. The poor woman literally had her whole life in front of her when she died in a car crash. That this happened five days after she graduated from college makes it even worse. And I think that if she had
Heidi The Hippie Reader
I thought The Opposite of Loneliness was an excellent collection of fiction and non-fiction essays by Marina Keegan, a Yale student who died in a car wreck a couple days after she graduated from college.

My favorite essay out of the bunch is "Against the Grain" pg 157 where she discusses her Celiac disease and the negative effect that that had on her mother.

She expresses frustration with how ridiculously protective her mother became when they were finally able to figure out what was wrong. She ta
I give this a solid 3.5/5 stars.


I enjoyed this book but wasn't profoundly impacted by it. There were a few fiction stories and a few essays that gripped me and left me wanting more, but overall they were just enjoyable to read. Not amazing, not profound, not too much, just enjoyable. I do think Marina was a great writer and obviously we don't know what she would have become, but these aren't as epic and profound as I was expecting them to be? I dunno.
I read bad and
Lesa Parnham
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
I DON'T READ SHORT STORIES-EVER. I have to admit that I bought this book with my Kindle because I heard of the tragic accident that cost Marina's life. Some of the reviews said that this book was published because Marina was an upper class girl. So? She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yale, can't do that with money alone. Some people dismissed this as a Young Adult book "that only appealed to people the same age as Marina. I am a 52 year old housewife, and I saw many stories and essays that appea ...more
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I don't think I could just not give this book five stars. I started reading it at work one day, and I couldn't put it down. I got attached to pretty much every story and its characters and I absolutely loved the nonfiction section as well. Overall, this is fantastic and I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone and everyone.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Similar to the publication of Go Set a Watchman, the relevance of The Opposite of Loneliness raises a lot of interesting questions. Would this collection have been published if not for Marina Keegan's death? What if she had not attended Yale? How much did her privilege play a part as opposed to her talent? I do not ask these questions to mitigate the tragedy of her all-too-early passing, just to stimulate thought surrounding this book's publication overall.

Those inquiries aside, I enjoyed Keegan
I guess one of the coolest things about growing up is that you suddenly have tons of important things to say and people actually listen to you. At age 22 I feel like I’m on the cusp. Of what, I don’t know. To where, I don’t know either. But it’s this fantastic feeling, indescribable really; if I tried, I’d say it’s how you feel after you’ve stepped off a diving board but before you hit the water. Light in the air, but heavy with gravity.

Marina Keegan died at age 22. Her feet never hit the water
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Tragic story of the author aside, these short stories and essays were beautiful. I loved them with all my heart. Marina's writing had so much passion and love and life behind it. Everything she wrote felt so exposing and honest. I haven't loved a book like this is a while. I will be going back and rereading her pieces for a long time.

The tragic story of Marina's death.....jesus. It did and did not affect the way I read this. My opinion of her writing as nothing to do with the fact that she
Rebecca Foster
The danger with a posthumous collection like this is that its value will be purely sentimental: you feel sorry for what happened to the author, so are willing to overlook deficiencies in the writing. Let me reassure you, though: this is top-notch work; no caveats required.

Surprisingly, the collection’s short stories, deeply thoughtful and relevant, are almost better than the essays (nine of each), and certainly on par with debuts by writers a decade Keegan’s senior. The best stories are clearly
Chihoe Ho
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
"I'm young. I'm fine." This is the invincibility most young people think about themselves. But when it comes down to it, we really know that it isn't the case. Life can be a tricky maneuver and change in the blink of an eye. Life, while long and filled with optimistic hope, can just be as short and littered with shattered promises. You understand that from the life of Marina Keegan, tragically cut short by a car accident five days after her graduation from Yale, just as much as you sense it exud ...more
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Like most collections of short stories/essays, some were significantly stronger than others. In general, the nonfiction > the fiction. I'll review this in my May wrap up! :)
Julie Ehlers
All right, well, I was skeptical about this book from the start, and this passage, five lines in, didn't help matters:
A student stood up. Thin. Beautiful. Long, reddish-brown hair. Long legs. Flagrantly short skirt.
I couldn't help but think, what if that passage said, "Chubby. Bad skin. Short, mousy-brown hair. Long baggy black T-shirt and cargo pants"? Would you still want to read this book? Would it have even been published? It's no accident that the cover of this book features a professional-
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
"Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love with everything...
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.

Marina Keegan was a brilliant and beautiful young woman whose life was cut tragically short only five days after graduating from Yale. This book collects some of her work, both fiction and nonfiction, in a way that highlights the beauty and poignancy of her spirit.

I freaking dare you to read this book and not cry. Go on. Try it. I bet you will be bawling withi
Liz Janet
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
“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.”

This is the beginning sentence from The Opposite of Loneliness, a collected work by Marina Keegan, compromised of fiction and non-fiction, and one of the most inspirational books I have ever read.

Marina Keegan was a Yale-graduate that died a few days after her graduation, and was known among the university as an author, playwright, journalist, poet, and probably more. So you will some
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"Stranded humans don't roll in with the tide - they hide in corners and the concrete houses and the plains of exotic countries we've never heard of, dying of diseases we can't pronounce."

Great ideas, good writing, melancholy, humor and sometimes boredom make this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Marina Keegan died five days after graduating from Yale, destined for a job at the New Yorker. Many people have read her title essay in the Yale Daily News, which reads more like a student commencement address.

It's important to view this collection for what it is. Marina was an undergraduate, only an undergraduate. Her writing doesn't even have the telltale signs of an MFA (probably for he best) and it sounds young, but she was young. Compare it to other writers her age and I think there are poc
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guide-enrichment
4.5/5 stars(I couldn't give it a full five star rating because I loved Marina's non-fiction so much better than her fiction, and I wish I could have read more of that).

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.

Marina Evelyn Keegan was an American author, playwright, journalist, actress and poet. She is best known for her essay The Opposite of Loneliness, which went viral and was viewed over 1.4 milli
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
4 stars

So I read this about a year ago, and let me tell you, I absolutely fell in love with Marina. She was so full of hope and life. Her death was a tragedy and I teared up a little when I read what happened to her. Admittedly, I didn't love all of her stories, but a couple of them really stuck with me and I've found myself thinking about them several times. All in all 'The Opposite of Loneliness' is definitely worth a read.
This book is now one of my favorite books of all time.

The writing is impeccable. Seriously. She was a genius with words. I felt so invested in the characters' lives, even in such short stories. I felt like I knew exactly how they were feeling even in situations I could not necessarily relate to.

Her essays are smart, humorous, and wickedly on point.

Basically, one of the most perfect books I have read in a long time.

Highly, highly recommend. 5/5
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Is there much more to be said then what has been said and talked about already?

Initially, I heard about this book through Goodreads but at the time didn't give it much thought.
Forgot all about it till it randomly popped up on my radar again not too long ago. On impulse, I checked to see if my library had it since I would be near there to see a movie that day (yesterday actually). They did have a copy so I figured, why not?

The stories and essays in here were of varying interest/quality to me. No
I knew before I started listening to this that the author of these short stories and essays had been killed in a car accident just days after graduating from Yale. She had a job lined up at The New Yorker. Even though I knew this, I teared up while the forward was being read. She was already a good writer and she never got the chance to hone her talent.

I enjoyed the short stories more than the essays. I found my mind wandering once in a while. I think if I had read it rather than listening to a
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Marina Evelyn Keegan was an American author, playwright, journalist, actress and poet. She is best known for her essay ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’,which went viral and was viewed over 1.4 million times in ninety-eight different countries after her death in a car crash just five days after she graduated magna cum laude from Yale University
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“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.” 324 likes
“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.” 211 likes
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