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The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan - Book Review & Highlights

3 min read
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan - Book Review & Highlights

Table of contents

⛰ What It's About

The Opposite of Loneliness is an anthology of Marina Keegan’s essays and stories. Marina Keegan graduated from Yale University and died five days later. Her essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral for her description of Yale’s atmosphere, reminiscing on what was.



🔍 How I Discovered It

I heard about this book from a tour guide while at Yale. The tour guide emphasized how Yale students will wait in line in the cold for tickets to their friend’s show and stand in the back of a packed room to hear a senior thesis proposal. They said this book dives into that more.

🧠 Thoughts

In general, it’s a good book. I like the collection of stories included. At first, I thought Keegan was a prodigy in writing, but she’s not. I’m sorry, but she’s not. Of course, my writing can’t even compare—she articulates herself much better than I can. I do think, however, it’s reassuring to know that she isn’t a prodigy. It gives me hope that practice does enhance skill.

Regardless, Keegan’s essays are still excellent. I loved reading them. Here are some of my favorites:

Being told you can’t do it. Professor Anne Fadiman, one of Keegan’s professors, shares a story where an author told her to refrain from writing. It’s a hard industry, and it doesn’t give much money, the author said. But, a few hours after that meeting, Keegan says, “I’ve decided I’m going to be a writer. Like, a real one. With my life.” That quote gave me goosebumps and encouraged me to persevere (not with pursuing writing, but I digress). Keegan would’ve done it, but she’s not here anymore. So, I can carry on her will.

The Opposite of Loneliness. This essay was insightful. I’ve always wondered if prestigious universities were toxic, but the opposite seems true. Keegan goes over Yale’s inclusivity while urging her peers to continue. “We’re so young. We’re so young... What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

Against the Grain. Keegan describes the problems she faced with being gluten intolerant. She recollects how her mom went to the end of the world and back to ensure Keegan would experience similar things as her peers. Her mom would make custom ice cream cones for field trips, create a committee at the local hospital for gluten intolerance, and call all of the dining halls at Yale for their ingredients list and reform their gluten-free options. It the end, Keegan admits that she wasn’t appreciative of her mom’s love. She thought her mom’s accommodations were annoying—she just wanted to be normal. But, she realizes how lucky she is to have such a caring mom. I like this story; it reminds me to appreciate my parents, even though their concerns can be a bit overwhelming.

I wish that Anne Fadiman would’ve included more of Keegan’s poems. She incorporates some excerpts from two of her poems, but I wanted more. In particular, I really like her poem Bygones.

🥰 Who Would Like It?

If you like romances or anthologies, you’ll like this book. If you just want to see how an undergraduate thinks, you’ll like this book.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes
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, from the poem “Bygones”
The whole world was stark and bleak and I realized I couldn’t think of a single thing I was looking forward to. Brian had begun to be that for me—the thing at the end of the day I could think about when everything else was boring.
I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outward, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card.
Michel Liao

Michel Liao

Boise, Idaho, United States
Hello! I'm a sophomore studying computer science at Princeton. I like reading, rock climbing, and running.