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Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity Paperback – June 2, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Despite the rather prurient title, Cohen's memoir is a deeply poignant, desperately sad account of a confused, directionless adolescent girl's free fall into self-abnegation. Growing up affluent in New Jersey in the 1980s and smarting from the recent breakup of her parents, 11-year-old Cohen begins to recognize the power her nubile body has over men. Being wanted becomes her greatest hope; once she and her older sister, Tyler, begin living with her father when her mother decides to attend med school in the Philippines, she latches onto other girls with whom she treks into New York City to bar hop at places like Dorian's Red Hand and pick up older, eager boys. Stunningly, the father is not alarmed by her early-morning absences, but seems to encourage her popularity, buying her clothes and treating her as a grownup. Gradually, hooking up with boys becomes a need, a way to bolster her faltering sense of self-worth. A litany of dreary sex acts follows with young men she doesn't particularly like and who don't like her, regardless of STD scares and a college rape. The painter mother of one of her boyfriends does initiate her into more intellectual pursuits, awakening a redemptive desire to become a writer. Cohen's memoir of a lost childhood is commendably honest and frequently excruciating to read. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Cohen recounts her harrowing litany of hookups through clear, poignant, spare-no-details prose."―Marie Claire
"Cohen's brutal honesty about her relentless request for companionship is refreshingly relatable."―Entertainment Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
All that being said, there is no way I am selling this book.
We have all seen those girls at bars and parties, the ones who flaunt themselves around. The ones everybody calls whores and sluts. Maybe you look at them with disgust. Maybe with pity or empathy. Maybe, if you're like one of the guys in Cohen's story, you look at them with lust. Whatever it is you think when you see a promiscuous girl, this book will change your mind forever.
Loose Girl holds nothing back. Cohen writes about her journey with heart-breaking honesty and detail that will make you cringe. The recount of sexual incidents during her childhood and adolescence is melancholy and at times very disturbing. As she continues on through high school and college, making the same mistakes over and over, the story becomes downright agonizing. The last section reads like day turning from afternoon to dusk, or perhaps late night becoming dawn. Every chapter holds new truths. She answers questions that can't be answered--questions about why we are the way we are, what it means to love and be loved. There is a part where she realizes "Not being able to live without someone is not love. It's need." Quotes like this make the book unforgettable.
In the process of writing and publishing her memoir, Cohen has taken a lot of unwarranted criticism. She's been called an attention-whore and a slut. But the truth is, Loose Girl isn't really about any of that. It's about identity. Kerry's sexual promiscuity could have been anything. It could have been alcohol, drugs, religion, or whatever else people let get in their way of creating their art and their life. Kerry's favorite quote is by Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?" In telling her chaotic story, she's not begging for attention to her life, she's helping us figure out ours. The writing truly touches on all fronts, it would be a huge mistake to assume otherwise.
This is a life-changing memoir that you'll want to read over and over. Here's to hoping Kerry Cohen will ignore the critics and keep up her incredible writing.
Cohen's mix of internal dialogue (exposition) and external plot kept me deeply engaged and turning pages. I cried for the young Cohen who couldn't cry herself. And rejoiced when she finally stepped toward healing.
Highly recommended, with the caveat that this (should be no surprise with the title and subject matter) is an R-rated story due to sexual scenes, underage drug and alcohol use, and swearing. It never once felt gratuitous to this reader. It felt raw and heart-breaking.
If I had any critique, it would be that the final scenes felt slightly rushed. I would have liked to linger with that deep calm and peace that came to Cohen as she began developing true relationships with her now-husband. It had been so hard-earned, I would have liked to be more of a part of it. Regardless, this is a well-written memoir and I'm grateful to Cohen for her bravery in sharing. I think she'll help others along their healing journey with these words.
That's a review from another reader and it's true. This book is about a woman remembering her sexual history. Nothing changes, nothing positive, no revelations. There is nothing to be learned here other than divorce is extremely damaging to children.
This is a book not worth reading.