29 Sep 2015
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan - #SassyBooks September
Life is uncertain, it doesn't play by the rules. Marina Keegan had just graduated from Yale and had a career lined up at the New Yorker when she was killed in a car accident. She, like many others, had her whole life ahead of her, only to be cruelly snatched in an instant. Because of this, I thought that The Opposite of Loneliness would be quite a difficult read, but to an extent I was pleasantly surprised.
This was our first non-fiction choice for #SassyBooks, despite considering numerous other options, and overall I'd say it was a good choice. Being a collection of short stories, essays and poetry it covers a lot of bases and interests, holding a lot of appeal for numerous people.
The book is split in to non fiction and fiction sections, each hosting a good amount of work despite it being our shortest book so far. Whilst I enjoyed the fiction section, I did think that the majority of the work was focused on more romantic themes which I felt were a bit juvenile at times. There's no denying that Marina was a talented writer, with an enthralling writing style and a knack for tugging at the emotions in a way that is relatable yet thought provoking. There were some points where I wasn't sure if these works were really fiction, as she seemed to perfectly slot in to the thoughts of her chosen character in a way that made it feel so real. One story in particular did give me nightmares as the ocean creeps me out, but on the whole I enjoyed them all.
The non fiction section was undoubtedly my favourite, with her personal essays reflecting perfectly the feelings of a young adult trying to find their way in the world. She's refreshingly honest, clearly very intelligent and somehow manages to write about herself in a way that doesn't seem self obsessed - something I know I struggle with and so admire greatly. The best way to describe her essays, and in fact most of her work, is thought provoking.
I suppose part of this comes from the circumstances as well, with an underlying feeling of "seizing the moment" crawling through every piece. It's difficult to argue that Marina was full of promise, with a clear talent for the written word and great things ahead of her. Because of her passing, we'll never know if she would have actually achieved all of these things, but she sure was on track. The impression I got from the book was that Marina did in fact live every moment to it's fullest, she was relatively well rounded and a generally nice person.
Her writing may come across as pretentious at times, but there's skill and meaning behind those words. Her non fiction work is approachable and relatable, like chatting with a friend. It's somewhat refreshing, but at the same time I can't help but wonder how many incredible writers I'm missing out on because they haven't been propelled to this level of status due to their circumstances? I loved this book, but there is an aura of scepticism which isn't all that unusual from me.
October's book comes from an author I've enjoyed before, and had also been suggested by a couple of people in previous months. Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne is the story of how one teenage girl copes with feeling ostracised from "normal" teenage life due to her struggle with OCD.
As per usual, make sure you check out everyone else's reviews of The Opposite of Loneliness on the #SassyBooks hashtag! I can't wait to see what everyone thinks.
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