nut free nerd

thoughts of a nut allergic book lover


the opposite of loneliness coverAuthor: Marina Keegan

Number of Pages: 240

Publisher: Scribner

Release Date: April 1, 2014

“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 International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assemblage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.”


To be honest, I was first drawn to this book by the bright yellow on the front  cover. Never did I imagine that the story behind it would be so tragic and inspiring.

My favorite piece of writing in this collection by far is “The Opposite of Loneliness,” Keegan’s most famous essay. It reads like an excellent commencement speech, and perhaps that’s what she  meant it to inadvertently be. The writing is accessible, fluid, and simply captivating. Throughout this book the writing remained at this excellent level: it was understandable and casual, yet still beautiful and clever.

Unfortunately, the entire collection did not captivate me as much as the first essay. There were some essays and stories that I thoroughly enjoyed, but that was mostly because I could connect with them in some form. For example, I really liked the essay about her living with Celiac Disease because I could relate to her due to my severe nut allergy. A few other favorites of mine were the stories about the man in Iraq, the crew stuck underwater, and the old woman reading to the young blind man. These stories were told from unique perspectives, and it was this fresh way of looking at the world that caught my attention and held it. Other than that, however, much of the other pieces felt sort of flat to me. The writing itself was great, but the content was lacking. Many of the works I just couldn’t connect with, and therefore I found them a bit dull.

Overall, I thought this collection of writing was insightful, observant, and certainly thought-provoking. Although I did not connect with or love every piece, the writing was too good for me not to appreciate and enjoy. Some people argue that this writing does not deserve to be published and is only published for the sole reason that she is dead, and I won’t dispute the latter argument: this particular collection most likely would not have been compiled if Keegan were still alive. However, I disagree with the first argument: Keegan’s written voice bounces off the page with a freshness and lively spirit that young people seem to exude. I personally believe that this writing deserved to be published, and I am glad that the cover caught my eye one day and I decided to read it.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes.

What did you think of this book? Do you think this collection deserved to be published? Let me know in the comments section below!



2 responses to “Book Review: THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS”

  1. I loved this book, but I agree with some of them being better than others. I think that’s true for any short story/essay collection though. My favorite was the opening essay and the short story about coming home from college, I’m blanking on the name of it but it was beautifully written!


    1. That one was a good one, too! I liked how she captured the feeling of being young and uncertain and free so well. Thanks for commenting! 🙂


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About ME, Holly

former english major, current twenty-something book lover, allergic to nuts. drop me a line at or on instagram.


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