Review of Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen
I just finished reading the memoir, Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen. It was a thought-provoking, and profoundly sad book. I tend to read memoirs written by people whose lives are completely opposite from mine, just to get a glimpse at another reality. It’s interesting to see what different people struggle with as they come of age.
I remember being entertained and intrigued by the memoirs of Marilyn Manson and Jenna Jameson for this reason. Getting a look into a whole different life that in no way resembles my own is immensely fascinating to me. Being that I was a goodie-two-shoes for most of my teenage years, never drinking, smoking or doing any drugs of any kind.
In Loose Girl, we first meet Kerry as a young girl who is just becoming aware of growing up, her body changing, and the power she learns to use to get what she wants, which is always love. It’s a desperation that you can really feel in her descriptions of her emotions and thoughts at that time as a preteen, a teenager, and then a young woman.
Her writing is very visual and descriptive. It immediately pulls you in and I found it hard to put the book down. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the book, wondering in which direction her story would go and how she would resolve all these unhealthy issues and addiction to men.
It’s a sad story of a broken family and a lack of communication. Being the youngest in my family as well, with an older sister as she has, I could relate to it but only for those reasons. I had always wanted to please my family and my sister was like a second mother. My parents are still married. Cohen’s got divorced and when her mother left to further her education, Kerry felt understandably abandoned.
Her father was not sure how to parent two teenage girls, often leaving them (the author and her older sister) with no boundaries. I was lucky that my parents never put their own needs before mine, and gave me love, appreciation, and constant attention. I guess that’s why I grew up more securely, not willing to give myself away to just anybody.
But Cohen searches for love in all the wrong places, wondering why her willingness to be with guys made her unlovable and made her look desperate. I understand having sexual curiosity and urgings, but she acts on those curiosities at an age where she has barely learned who she actually is. And it only serves to mess her up more. To me, it sounded a lot like an addiction, chasing a high that she hoped would lead to real love, but rarely did.
I was impressed with her ability to take the advice of her therapists and turn her life around by doing things for herself, focusing on writing, joining workshops, starting an exercise (running) habit. Through her writing especially, she came to know herself and got a similar thrill like the one she got from male attention and affection. That part was very enjoyable to read.
In reading this book I realize how lucky I am to have had the childhood I had, and that I learned to value myself and my body. I think if I had gone through all her trials and slept with so many men that I would get to my current age and not feel quite like a human being. But thankfully, she is still alive and wrote this book as a sort of cautionary tale. And I can appreciate that. When you create art from something dark and painful in the past, other people can see it and understand it and relate sometimes, and that’s valuable and admirable.
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