The Opposite Of Loneliness recently caught my attention whilst I was working. Last year it had been the November non-fiction `book of the month’ but in my simple ignorance I overlooked the book due to the very fact it wasn’t fiction. I hadn’t even taken the time to read what the book was about before I rudely cast it aside.
It took until Christmas when a harassed and exhausted looking parent came rushing into the store asking me for a book describing it with great interest and factual accuracy. As she spoke about this tome, the title evading her, I grew more and more interested feeling this was a book I needed to read urgently. Lo and behold when a simple Google search of `girl dies in car crash essays published’ brought up The Opposite Of Loneliness, I realised I owed the book a second glance.
As blunt as the above Goggle term sounds, that is what this book essentially is.
The wonderful Marina Keegan died at the devastating age of 22 when her boyfriend crashed the car they were driving in. Marina, a popular, intelligent and well loved student from Yale was in the beginning of an illustrious and fruitful career as a journalist, writer, play-write and poet.
When people die they tend to leave behind a whole host of artefacts that go some way to lessen the pain. Marina left behind a legacy. A set of writings and essays written throughout her 22 years which helped to paint a picture of the woman she was and comfort those she left behind.
The eponymous essay, The Opposite Of Loneliness, was published on the Yale website and in just mere days the article had been read over a million times. It was then decided a team of professors who taught Marina, her parents and a publishing house would cultivate Marina’s works and turn them into a book. A book to share with the rest of the world.
This is a stunning book. Not just for the essays and stories or the tragedy behind the book, but for the overall effect it has on the psyche. Marina had no idea her life would be so short and the bittersweet basis for The Opposite Of Loneliness revolves around the notion of time. How much time we have left and, in Marina’s own words,
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.
She follows on later in the essay to repeat the sentiment:
We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.
Marina understood life. She felt the urgent need to make her time count, to live for every second, to spend no time pondering over the past. She had a vibrant energy and passion for life that you can feel through her writing. As you progress through the stories and essays in this book, you feel as though you grow to know Marina. Her sense of humour, her compassion, her desires and most importantly her insistence that no one should waste their own time.
Whilst it breaks my heart that Marina is not around to see this book published or to witness the reaction to it, I can’t help but feel slightly grateful that we have the chance to read her work. It’s beautiful.