New Book From Deceased Yale Student Based on 2012 Viral Student Newspaper Column

Almost two years ago, a graduating Yale University senior named Marina Keegan wrote a column for The Yale Daily News reflecting on her time in school and the limitless post-grad possibilities awaiting her and her classmates.

Featured in a special commencement issue of YDN, the piece by the 22-year-old Massachusetts native achieved sudden viral status after Keegan died in a car crash only a few days after its publication. Keegan’s writings were recently compiled and edited into a book set to be published tomorrow. It sports the same name as the student newspaper column on which it is based, “The Opposite of Loneliness.


As Nicholas Kristof recounts in The New York Times, “Her boyfriend was driving her to her father’s 55th birthday party on Cape Cod. Though he was neither speeding nor drinking, he fell asleep at the wheel. They both were wearing seatbelts, but her seat was fully reclined so that the seatbelt was less effective. The car hit a guard rail and rolled over twice. The boyfriend was unhurt; Keegan was killed. Her mother, Tracy Keegan, combed the wreckage. Marina’s laptop had been smashed, but the hard drive was extracted to mine the writings so important to her — and now preserved in her book.”


As I previously posted, in her 2012 column, Keegan shared her affection for the Yale community, defining the security and warmth it provided her as “the opposite of loneliness.” She also reminded her fellow graduates that even though they may have already felt limited by their chosen degrees, peer competition and general life stresses and responsibilities, they were still free to grab hold of the world and leave an imprint upon it in whatever way they wanted.

In her words, “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. … What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

According to a press kit for the forthcoming book, Keegan’s essay “became an instant global sensation, viewed by more than 1.4 million people from 98 countries.”

On an only slightly related note, for the college media geeks reading, this is actually the second book published this spring that was inspired by something first appearing in an Ivy League student newspaper. “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the ONE” by Princeton University alumnae Susan Patton premiered in March.

The book is a call-to-arms for female students to hunt hard for potential husbands while still in school, an argument Patton first made in a March 2013 letter to the editor published in The Daily Princetonian. As I previously posted, the letter provoked such impassioned, outsized interest it may have temporarily crashed the Princetonian site.


After Fatal Car Crash, Yale Graduating Senior’s Reflection Essay Goes Viral

Princeton Alum Writes Letter to Student Paper Advising Women ‘Find a Husband on Campus Before You Graduate’

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