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An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

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.

Amazon.com Review

J. R. Moehringer
About J. R. Moehringer

J. R. Moehringer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000, is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Author of the bestselling memoir, The Tender Bar, he is also the co-author of Open by Andre Agassi. His most recent publication is Sutton, published in 2012.


J. R. Moehringer on Marina Keegan

I never met Marina Keegan, but when I learned of her death I felt as if I''d known her well. We belonged to several of the same tribes. We were both Yalies. We were both from the Northeast. Both Irish, both writers. We walked some of the same paths, probably sat in the same chairs. So it was as if I’d lost a close cousin, or even a kid sister.

Then I read her work. In that terrible week, as media outlets posted her essays, as people around the world reposted them, I read every word with a sinking, quickening heart. The first news reports, I felt, had been wrong - this wasn’t simply a promising young writer, this was a prodigy, a rare rare talent, still raw, still evolving, but shockingly mature. From the few things she’d published in her brief life I could project a remarkable career, a line of words stretching far into the future, words that would have thrilled and enlightened, words that might have changed people’s lives. As I grieved for her family, her friends, her boyfriend, I also grieved for the global community of readers who would never know the pleasure and excitement of a brand new book by Marina Keegan.

Marina Keegan

All of which made me think there should be, there must be, at least one book with Marina’s name on the spine. Publishers aren’t eager to take chances these days, but I hoped that one would have the guts, the heart, to make a slim, posthumous collection of Marina’s stories and essays and poems. I could actually see the book in my mind, stacked on the front table of a sunlit bookstore, perhaps the Yale bookstore, where I’m sure Marina dreamed about her work appearing one day.

A year later, it came in the mail, the very book I’d seen in my mind, with the only possible title: The Opposite of Loneliness. I studied the striking cover photo and felt a wave of sorrow and joy. Then I sat down and read it and that sorrow-joy feeling became my constant companion over the next several days.

This is a book full of wonders. This is a book full of sentences that any writer, 21 or 101, would be proud to have authored. This is a book that will speak to young readers, because it expresses some of that inexpressible anxiety of starting out, of making life''s first momentous choices, of wanting and fearing and needing and hoping and dreading everything at the same time. It will also speak to older readers, because it’s an inspiring reminder of youth’s brimming energy, its quivering sense of possibility.

Young people get a bad rap for thinking they’re immortal, and acting accordingly, but Marina dwelled on the end. Hers, civilization’s, the sun’s. “And time, that takes survey of all the world, must have a stop.” She must have heard her beloved adviser Harold Bloom expound many times on Hotspur’s line, and clearly she took it to heart, personalized it. Savor every half-second, she seemed to be saying, to herself, to her readers, and her meditations on death, once charmingly precocious, now feel breathtakingly premonitory. Describing a group of fifty whales beached near her house on Cape Cod, she laments that their songs don’t transmit on land, and thus they can’t communicate their final thoughts. “I imagined dying slowly next to my mother or a lover, helplessly unable to relay my parting message.”

Such was her fate. And yet it wasn''t, not really. This book is her parting message, exquisitely relayed.

And it’s not a mournful message. There’s so much light and humor here. In the title essay alone I hear glimmers of Lorrie Moore, Ann Beattie, Fran Lebowitz. For example, when Marina worries that other kids are sprinting ahead of her, embarking on fabulous careers while she’s still clinging to the cocoon of Yale. “Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.”

My favorite passage might be this gorgeous burst of nostalgia, this prose poem about the bright college years. “When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.”

The hats. That tiny sentence was the first raindrop before the deluge, a tickling hint of all that was to come. How many 21-year-olds are capable of a line so sure-handed, so precisely and comically placed? The only other two-word sentence I can think of that had me laughing aloud and shaking my head was in Lolita. (Humbert summarizing his mother’s demise: “Picnic, lightning. ”)

If I’d met Marina, I’d have urged her to keep these first hopeful essays handy, cherish their energy, refer to them whenever beset by despair and doubt. Instead I’ll have to give that advice to her readers.

I also might have told Marina that we do have a word for the opposite of loneliness. It’s called reading. Again, I’ll have to tell her readers. This book reminds us: as long as there are books, we’re never completely alone. Open it anywhere and Marina’s voice leaps off the page, uncommonly honest, forever present. With this lovely book always at hand, we and Marina will never be completely apart.

Review

“In her brief life Marina Keegan managed to achieve a precocious literary mastery. Her wry, wise, lyrical voice is unforgettable, and her vital, exuberant spirit reminds us powerfully to seize the day. Though every sentence throbs with what might have been, this remarkable collection is ultimately joyful and inspiring, because it represents the wonder that she was.” -- J.R. Moehringer, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Tender Bar

"I will never cease mourning the loss of my beloved former student Marina Keegan. This book gives partial evidence of the extraordinary promise that departed with her. Throughout she manifests authentic dramatic invention and narrative skill. Beyond all those, she makes a vital appeal to everyone in her generation not to waste their gifts in mere professionalism but instead to invest their youthful pride and exuberance both in self-development and in the improvement of our tormented society.” -- Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English, Yale University

"Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience, which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. 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. When she read her work aloud around our seminar table, it would make us snort with laughter, and then it would turn on a dime and break our hearts." -- Anne Fadiman, Yale University Professor of English and Francis Writer in Residence and author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and Ex Libris

"Illuminates the optimism and neurosis felt by new grads everywhere. . .Like every millenial who''s seen irony elevated to an art form, Keegan brings self-awareness to the collective insecurity of her peers even as she captures it with a precision that only comes from someone who feels it too. How unfortunate that she will never know the value readers will find in her work." ― Publishers Weekly

"Funny, poignant, tender, and fiercely alive, ''The Opposite of Loneliness'' contains the keen observations of a short lifetime—and the wisdom of a much longer one." -- Jennifer DuBois, author of Cartwheel and A Partial History of Lost Causes

“The writing Marina Keegan left behind offers a tantalizing taste of a literary voice still in development, yet already imbued with unusual insight, nuance, humor, and sensitivity.” -- Deborah Treisman, Fiction Editor, "The New Yorker"

“Two years after a young writer’s death, her words soar. . . . The Opposite of Loneliness...sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth. The prose, polished but thoroughly unselfconscious, is heartbreaking evidence of what could have been.” ― O Magazine

"A bittersweet, what-might-have-been book filled with youthful optimism, energy, honesty, and beyond-her-years wisdom." ― Yale Alumni Magazine

"The Opposite of Loneliness captures in both fiction and nonfiction [Keegan''s] adventures in love and lust, the weird bliss of being stoned, and, as she writes, what it’s like to see ''everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again.''" ― Elle

"Remarkable... a compelling literary voice... the appeal of this collection is its improvisational quality, its feeling of being unfinished but always questioning." ― Chicago Tribune

"How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, [Keegan] could take a clever idea...and make it something beautiful." ― People Magazine

"A triumph...Keegan was right to prod us all to reflect on what we seek from life." -- Nicholas Kristof, "The New York Times"

" The Opposite of Loneliness does [Keegan''s] talent and memory justice, both as a picture of a generation entering adulthood and as a highly personal portrait of a gifted young woman." ― Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

“What a gift Keegan has left behind. Not only in her written words...but also in her legacy of social activism and fierce belief in leading a life of purpose, not privilege. -- Joseph P. Kahn, Boston Globe

“Keegan’s fiction… is built around the kind of empathetic extrapolation that makes for all the best realism… Keegan would have been—would have continued to be—a star. She would have been famous, not quietly or vaguely, but really, really famous.” ― The New Republic

“[Keegan ] was one of the most present, incisive, and hopeful writers.… That’s the gift and the pain of her book. How incredible, how lucky, that we get to read her words, that people who never knew her or her work can find it for themselves, that she was in some way given the chance to speak to the world the way she wanted.” ― Buzzfeed

“A glimpse of a young woman who is growing as a writer and a person, someone who’s thinking deeply about love and the world around her and the scale of the universe….I have no doubt she would have been great.” ― Bustle

“In the little time [Keegan] graced the world she created a life’s work many writers could only dream of achieving in decades.” ― MariaShriver.com

“This posthumous collection of essays and short stories is beautiful and brilliant, young but not childish—just like the author was. Every essay is a gem you want to pick up and put in your pocket, taking it out from time to time to see how it looks in different lights—the lights of promise and potential, yearning and memory. The Opposite of Loneliness will make people cry and hope.” ― Rewire Me

“The loveliest piece of writing I’ve ever seen from someone so young… Her voice is steady and often very funny, her senses of character and pace are frighteningly good, and the flow of her prose is easy to get carried away by. She wasn''t just college-talented; she was talented, period.” ― Kevin Roose, New York Magazine

“A new voice of her generation.” ― The Hartford Courant

"Wonderful... Marina Keegan did that thing we all want to do as writers: say what everyone else is thinking, but better." ― Refinery29

""Inspirational." ― The Huffington Post

"Full of uncanny wisdom...Marina would not want to be remembered because she was dead. She would want to be remembered because she’s good. No worries there, Marina. You left us aching for more." ― Detroit News

Ms. Keegan takes on the meaningful and mundane with wit and grace. Her words alternatively swagger and tiptoe.... Reading this book is both heartbreaking and entertaining." ― The Economist

"In her short life, Keegan exhibited uncanny wisdom for an individual of any age, and a literary talent perhaps even more rare." ― The Huffington Post

"Keegan''s short stories are relatable and entertaining while her essays, including some of her op-eds from the Yale Daily News, showcase her work as an already accomplished writer. Young writers everywhere will look to her as an inspiration." -- The Huffington Post

"The ultimate summer read for Gen-Y, by Gen-Y." ― Elite Daily

About the Author

Marina Keegan (1989-2012) was an award-winning author, journalist, playwright, poet, actress, and activist. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times; her fiction has been published on NewYorker.com, and read on NPR’s Selected Shorts; her musical, Independents, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Marina’s final essay for The Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” became an instant global sensation, viewed by more than 1.4 million people from 98 countries. For more information, please visit TheOppositeofLoneliness.com.

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
840 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

ALund
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Collection of College Writings
Reviewed in the United States on September 22, 2018
While I can appreciate the collection, the tone and style of the work. This is a collection of essays from a college student and far from a complete insight of what it means to be in your early 20s. I can recognize (and have sympathy for) the unfair reality that Marina died... See more
While I can appreciate the collection, the tone and style of the work. This is a collection of essays from a college student and far from a complete insight of what it means to be in your early 20s. I can recognize (and have sympathy for) the unfair reality that Marina died far too young. But that does not mean we should lift her writing higher than it is. The first essay is the strongest and the others feel like college writing assignments. I regret that we will never get to read the writer Marina could have become, but overall the book kind feels like what it is: a composition of her limited works.
24 people found this helpful
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Mitch
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant!
Reviewed in the United States on October 16, 2018
I am a high school creative writing teacher and I have been modeling Marina Keegan''s writings and WORD poems for years now. Marina''s extraordinary mom was kind enough to come speak to my class. Probably the best thing I can say is that a student of mine who was suicidal... See more
I am a high school creative writing teacher and I have been modeling Marina Keegan''s writings and WORD poems for years now. Marina''s extraordinary mom was kind enough to come speak to my class. Probably the best thing I can say is that a student of mine who was suicidal took interest in this book during Marina''s mom''s visit and read it all in one night---the next day he told me that the book changed his outlook on life. Thus, the book is true to its title---the opposite of loneliness is what the readers are able to feel because Marina Keegan is ever the best of company. She pulls you in by the hands and takes you on a spin that leaves you out of breath, beaming with amusement and pleading for more.
13 people found this helpful
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Hannah
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Incredibly moving and thought provoking selection of work
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2019
I have purchased this book more than 5 times as gifts for friends. I''m not generally a fan of essay compilations, but this one is incredible. The personal story of the author is quite heartbreaking, but her work will live on forever. Highly recommend for all readers! Easy... See more
I have purchased this book more than 5 times as gifts for friends. I''m not generally a fan of essay compilations, but this one is incredible. The personal story of the author is quite heartbreaking, but her work will live on forever. Highly recommend for all readers! Easy to read and understand, concepts are thought provoking but not as deep as a doctoral level philosophy class, and it''s just a great escape into someone else''s experiences of the world. I recommend this book to everyone!
3 people found this helpful
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Alicia Cook
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
It''s terrible that her life was cut so short - the ...
Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2016
She was talented. At just 22, she had a strong sense of self in her writing. even when I was reading her fiction, I thought I was reading about her life. It''s terrible that her life was cut so short - the book is ominous at times, almost as though she knew she would not... See more
She was talented. At just 22, she had a strong sense of self in her writing. even when I was reading her fiction, I thought I was reading about her life. It''s terrible that her life was cut so short - the book is ominous at times, almost as though she knew she would not live long. She spoke of death and what she hopes for her life, and what she hopes carries on after she passes. I am sure he mother is grateful for the one piece dedicated to her dedication as a mother. I read it in 2 days - I recommend.
13 people found this helpful
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Reading To Distraction
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
but had put it off due to the ubiquitous “fear it won’t be as good as people claim”
Reviewed in the United States on November 12, 2014
Sometimes there are moments where life reaches out and slaps you across the face. You find something that wakes you up and inspires action and most of all hope. Reading Marina Keegan’s work was one of those moments for me. I have been aware of this book for a while, but had... See more
Sometimes there are moments where life reaches out and slaps you across the face. You find something that wakes you up and inspires action and most of all hope. Reading Marina Keegan’s work was one of those moments for me. I have been aware of this book for a while, but had put it off due to the ubiquitous “fear it won’t be as good as people claim”. Boy, was I wrong.

I was set up to be disappointed. I typically hate short stories. As far as I’m concerned it’s like eating one fun sized Snickers or reading one chapter in a book. Who does that? Once I started on this collection, I consumed the remainder within 18 hours despite work interruptions (No, I did not play hooky though extremely tempting). These stories had me alternating between tears, hope, thoughtfulness and joy. Read this book. Remember what it was like to be 22, and find an amazing collection of work infused with energy and enthusiasm.

Who should read it? Just buy it. Even you non-readers can handle short stories!

See all my reviews and more at www.ReadingToDistraction.com or follow on Twitter @Read2Distract
14 people found this helpful
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ElbeauTop Contributor: BBQ Styles
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Great Collection of Stories by a Fantastic Writer Who Left Us Way Too Soon
Reviewed in the United States on September 21, 2015
Amazing! I am an avid reader. As a frame of reference, I like Haruki Murakami, Mikhail Bulgakov, Mitch Albom, Lorrie Moore, and the like. I also like books like Christopher Moore''s when I need laughs. But Marina Keegan is in a class by herself. Put aside her tragic and... See more
Amazing! I am an avid reader. As a frame of reference, I like Haruki Murakami, Mikhail Bulgakov, Mitch Albom, Lorrie Moore, and the like. I also like books like Christopher Moore''s when I need laughs. But Marina Keegan is in a class by herself. Put aside her tragic and untimely death, which, admittedly, is very hard to do, it is almost impossible to believe these stories were written by someone in her very early 20''s. To me, a great book is one that not merely keeps you involved while reading it, but adds something to you that doesn''t go away. This is such a book. All but one of the stories in this book has made a lasting impact. It is truly sad that Ms. Keegan is not around to write more. I hold out hope that her family will see fit to publish more of her writing.
10 people found this helpful
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book beach bunny
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved the essays
Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2014
I honestly didn''t expect to be as taken with this book as I was. The essays were the best of the book though. The short stories were good they were just a little well, weirdly, I thought cold and distant for most of them. However I related to all the essays. The... See more
I honestly didn''t expect to be as taken with this book as I was.

The essays were the best of the book though. The short stories were good they were just a little well, weirdly, I thought cold and distant for most of them. However I related to all the essays. The author had a great grasp of language and writing and I wish I could have read more of her writing. The titled essay The Opposite of Loneliness was my favorite of all of them.

Her writing does touch a lot on mortality and I wonder if it wouldn''t have stood out so without the author''s untimely death. I always wonder when I read about people like her who did so much in such a short time and seemed to think so much about mortality did some little part of them know they wouldn''t have long? Who knows? In that respect it also made the book feel a lot more personal to me than it might other wise have. But that''s only my opinion and reading of it.

I''d recommend this one to everyone but especially for people Marina''s age or younger.
10 people found this helpful
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Brian Bragg
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lighting the torch
Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2016
If anyone can save American democracy from this century''s suffocating cloud of ignorance and violence, it will be our daughters and granddaughters. A collection of scraps and pieces from the tragically extinguished life of a bright young woman reminds us again that a... See more
If anyone can save American democracy from this century''s suffocating cloud of ignorance and violence, it will be our daughters and granddaughters.
A collection of scraps and pieces from the tragically extinguished life of a bright young woman reminds us again that a society must embrace the truth and candor of youth to save itself from the opportunistic mob of decaying liars, swindlers and self-serving fear-mongers who would drag it into darkness.
Give this book to your teenage daughters and granddaughters, and ask them to take up the torch that Marina Keegan barely had a chance to light.
9 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Kirstie
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You should read this book. Right now.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 20, 2015
A few months ago a friend of mine read an essay online called, The Opposite of Loneliness. He said it was deeply moving and made him think about his own life; he also told me to read it and I told him I would... but as usual I completely forgot about it. It wasn''t until the...See more
A few months ago a friend of mine read an essay online called, The Opposite of Loneliness. He said it was deeply moving and made him think about his own life; he also told me to read it and I told him I would... but as usual I completely forgot about it. It wasn''t until the #SassyBooks book club announced that their September read was a book of the same name that I remembered it and decided to look it up. No surprise that they were one in the same! Marina Keegan is described as an American author that passed away five days after graduating from college in 2012, but she is more than that. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of her short stories and personal essays, all of which were chosen by Anne Fadiman (her college professor and friend) after Marina''s death. She is remembered as the talented writer that died after her graduation, but for me that doesn''t do her justice. She wasn''t just a writer, she was a story-teller, she had, and still has, the capability to draw people into a world and make them feel, she has the power to delve into the mind of a complete stranger and make it feel like you are the only person in the world that matters. She is not her death, she is her words, her beautiful descriptions, her understanding of the human soul, and so much more. What is it about The book is a collection of short stories and essays, all of which explore human emotion; from the old woman that strips off to read to a blind man, to Marina''s personal essay on having Celiac disease, each piece leaves you feeling - feeling what? Well, that''s up to the individual reader, but for me, the more I read on, the more I wanted to escape my life and become a better human. Within the short amount of space that we are given to learn about her characters, their lives and their stories, we end up learning more about ourselves through their very creation. What would we do in that situation? How would we react to this? and most importantly, how will our present effect our future? In the short story, Reading Aloud is the line ''aging is harder for beautiful people'' and a first I thought nothing of it, but I came back to it and I kept coming back to it. She was right. In those six words, in a singular short story, she has opened up an entire world of debate, understanding and discovery. Whether she knew it or not, Marina was a genius.
19 people found this helpful
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Emily
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Powerful title essay!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2016
I haven''t read all of this book yet and I''m not sure that I would sit down and read it all back to back but I love to dip in and out of the book. Personally I prefer the non-fiction and the title essay is a perfect description of how scary and exciting the end of university...See more
I haven''t read all of this book yet and I''m not sure that I would sit down and read it all back to back but I love to dip in and out of the book. Personally I prefer the non-fiction and the title essay is a perfect description of how scary and exciting the end of university can be. This book came to me at just the right time as I was finishing university and starting my career!
One person found this helpful
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Gemma
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amazing, Inspiring, Thought provoking.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2015
Everyone should read the Opposite of Loneliness. The title essay "The Opposite of Loneliness" literally sums up every feeling that I had post- uni but have probably spent the last two years since graduating wishing I was back. Marina was well beyond her years in...See more
Everyone should read the Opposite of Loneliness. The title essay "The Opposite of Loneliness" literally sums up every feeling that I had post- uni but have probably spent the last two years since graduating wishing I was back. Marina was well beyond her years in that she realised that life would still be as fun as when at uni as long as you don''t live in that post-uni regret phase. Something I think she wouldn''t have done had her life not been cut so short. It should be on every university reading list - especially her article titled "Even Artichokes have Doubts" which applies to Yale and the consultancy industry but could equally be applied to any university or college anywhere in the world. Her short stories were well written and typical of a 22 year old as she wrote about what she knew. They were easily identifiable and thought provoking.
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Poignant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2017
Poignant and beautifully written. Literary music
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5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2020
Girlfriend ordered and read this, said it was really good
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