Marina Keegan's life was full of promise: she graduated Yale with honors, had a play to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival, and was to begin work at the New Yorker in the fall. However, five days after her commencement, she was in a fatal car crash.

After her death, the last essay she wrote for the Yale Daily News, "The Opposite of Loneliness," went viral. In the months following, her family and friends cultivated a collection of Keegan's fiction and nonfiction that she wrote during college, titling it after her famous essay.

I'm not an emotional reader, but this collection was so devastatingly beautiful, that I found myself moved to tears more than once. I fell in love with Keegan's writing; every character felt authentic, every story was written in young, honest prose. Anne Fadiman, her professor who wrote the introduction, explained it perfectly: "Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful."

My favorite of the short stories is "Cold Pastoral," which follows a young woman in college whose casual lover dies unexpectedly, and how she deals with grief and the uncertainty of relationships. Another haunting story is "Challenger Deep," about a submarine that is stuck in the depths of the sea. Keegan's nonfiction is just as good as her fiction-my favorites were "Against the Grain," in which she describes her celiac disease and relationship with her mother, and "Stability in Motion," an ode to her first car.

I whole-heartedly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys essays or short stories that delve into relationships and loss, or that empty-feeling one gets after finishing a really good book. At the very least, I recommend reading her inspiring essay "The Opposite of Loneliness."

 

Recommended by Allie Charles

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