Monday, July 21, 2008

Review: Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen


I slept with close to forty boys and men before I figured out doing so was not serving me well.
[pg 1]


Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity
by Kerry Cohen
Hyperion, 2008
Nonfiction (Memoir); 210 pgs


Kerry Cohen was nothing like me; or was she? While she was vying for men’s affections and slipping under the covers with boys and men she barely knew, I kept to myself, lost myself in my studies, and sought approval and attention in other ways. Sex, drugs and alcohol were never a part of my scene like they were for Kerry. Despite our different approaches to achieve a similar goal, I was really no different than the author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity.

Kerry Cohen came to realize early in her life that as a woman, she had a power over men. With a certain tilt of her head, the widening of her eyes, and a swing of her hip, men would take notice. Amidst her parents’ divorce, her mother’s favoritism of her sister and eventual abandonment, and her father’s easy going and unrestrictive mode of parenting where he sought to be more friend than parent figure, Kerry was left feeling invisible and hungry for attention most of her young life. Each of her parents harbored their own insecurities, which influenced Kerry and her sister, Tyler, both in different and yet similar ways.

Kerry wanted to be noticed. She wanted to be loved. She thought she could find what she was looking for by latching onto men. She thought she could not live without them—that they were the answer to her loneliness and lack of control over her life. And for a short while, it may have seemed satisfying to her—enough to keep her going back for more. She lost herself in the process, forgetting who she was, striving only to please the many men in her life, wanting them to want her. And yet, her constant need and wanting, even when she had what she had sought after, was never enough because she never quite felt secure in herself.

She eventually came to realize that the dangerous path she was traveling down would not give her what she truly needed most. Her life was spiraling out of control and like the alcoholic or drug addict, Kerry needed to hit rock bottom before she would be able to turn her life around. She did not like who she had become and realized that she had to do something to change that. She started to take back her life. She discovered her love for writing, which gave her a direction to go, and began to accept that she did not need a man to survive. Only then was she able to develop a healthy relationship with someone, and even then, it was not always so easy.

While I did not turn to sex and men the way Kerry did, I had my own vices, my own way of filling that void in my life. I too have felt what it is like to want to be noticed, to be needed and wanted. I could relate to Kerry on that deeper level even having never shared her life experiences. I think most of us can relate to her story in that way. We all at some point feel like the outsider, like we do not fit in. We may feel invisible or alone in this world. We seek approval. We want to be loved and feel needed.

Kerry Cohen’s Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity was a moving and heartfelt story of one girl’s struggle with her own desires and needs. She sought to be loved not really understanding what love was, mistaking it for sex. The more she gave of herself physically, the more of herself she held back, unable to truly let herself be loved and to love fully. The author’s writing style flows smoothly, and I found it impossible not to form an attachment to the author the more of her story I read. She writes from the perspective of where she was at the time the story was taking place, with occasional bits of hindsight added on. I felt this was an effective manner of telling her story.

The author offers no "cure" or big "aha!" moment in the end. She is not looking to offer anyone a boiler plate solution because there is none. Kerry's own story and struggles are ongoing. There is no quick fix. I liked that about this book. It is real and honest. After finishing the book, I rushed to her website to see what she is doing now, to see if her story had a happy ending.

Rating: * (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by Kerry Cohen's website for more information about the author and her writing.


Read what others had to say about this book:
Book Zombie
Books on the Brain
Breaking the Fourth Wall
Canadian Bookworm
Pop Culture Junkie

15 comments:

  1. Any book that makes you understand and relate to the narrator/author is a good one. We are all, after all, human. Thanks for the review!

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  2. I do like memoirs, particularly when the writer shows self-awareness and insight (you might think that's a given when someone writes a memoir, but surprisingly, it's often missing). I like that you were able to empathize and identify with Kerry at a core level, despite very different life circumstances.

    Thanks for another book to add to the list, Wendy (I think) :-)!

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  3. Hi Wendy :)))
    I am back, have a nice new router, nothing should happen. I am so happy to be back, missed you all. Wrote to Nat, so I have to go to Nymeth and slowly catch up. I amm reading THE BOAT it is one of the best books this year.

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  4. I read a book I loved kind of like this but I can't recall the name :(

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  5. Great review, Wendy. The first para really caught my attention and got me thinking too. This is going into my wish list. Thanks for the review! :)

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  6. I'm not usually into memoirs but this sounds really interesting. Thanks for the review!

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  7. I got this one recently from the publisher, but haven't found time to read it yet. Yours is the most favorable review I've read. I'll have to move it up a slot or two. Boy, that makes it sound like my reading is all planned out!

    PS I'm giving away a couple books and a bag, stop by and see me!

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  8. What a great review. I like books that remind me that sometimes people who act very differently from the way I act are not very different from me at all. This definitely sounds like one of those.

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  9. Thanks for the great review, Wendy! I enjoy reading memoirs so I'll look out for this book.

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  10. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I've read some mixed reviews on it but I like what you said about being able to understand the author even without the same experiences. I like that in a memoir. I hope to get to this one soon.

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  11. Hmmm. Sounds interesting (and scary- I have a daughter).

    I've nominated you for an award :)

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  12. Sounds interesting. I like books like this that are honest and don't offer a quick fix solution at the end. Life isn't that simple usually. I think it is a need for pretty much everyone to want to be noticed and loved, they just go about getting it in different ways.

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  13. The quote certainly caught my attention! I typed up a big long paragraph about how I might relate in a non relately type of way--perhaps similar to how you suggested you related, but I'll leave my comment as such: beautiful review, thanks for bringing this one to my attenion. I'll definitely be looking for it.

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  14. Clea - Isn't that the truth? I do think that what Kerry Cohen was--and is--feeling is very common. We just all manage it in different ways, some of us better than others.

    Florinda - I've read some reviews where the reviewers suggest the author hasn't gone far enough with her insight. I thought for what the author wanted to get across, she managed to do it quite well. When she finished writing the book, she still had a ways to go though towards healing, which I think plays a part in that.

    Sylvie - I'm so glad to see you were able to get your computer troubles fixed! It's great to have you back.

    Jen - If you think of it, do let me know!

    Alice - Thank you. It was an interesting book. I hope you do get the chance to read it.

    Monica - I tend to be picky about the memoirs I read. I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit for this one but was so glad I did.

    Lisa - I'll be curious to hear your thoughts on it. I've noticed that the couple of other reviews I read about this book were lukewarm. Maybe I was just in the right mood for it at the time. Sometimes that's all it takes. For me, anyway. :-)

    Nymeth - Thank you! I think so much of what we feel on a basic level is similar; it's just how we react and act out that varies. It's easy to forget that sometimes.

    Melody - You're welcome! I hope you are able to read this one!

    Iliana - Hopefully you will enjoy it too!

    Chris - It is scary! I doubt you are the same type of parent that either of Kerry's were, but I imagine some kids even from good families end up going down the wrong path. It was appalling in a way, how casual Kerry and her friends were about sex and drugs.

    Rhinoa - I tend to prefer endings like that too in books like this. Of course, now she has left room to write a sequel too if she wanted. But I do think that the author did want to leave it open in the end--it is an ongoing process for her and there was no quick fix.

    Trish - Thank you for your kind words! I wish I could have read your long paragraph! I knew when I first considered reading this book that I was going to have to open myself up a bit more than I usually do when I read a book. I took a chance on this one, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and it was worth it.

    Lenore - Thanks!

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