Tuesday, July 15, 2008

#46 - Loose Girl

Kerry Cohen's Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity took me a little by surprise. It's not often a book manages to catch me off guard, but from the minute I read the first few sentences of this excerpt, I couldn't put it down. So, I took the whole book with me to the cottage and read it in an evening. I was reading when I should have been sleeping and the rain fell all over the cabin as passionately as rain tends to do in the summer. With my RRHB securely asleep beside me, Cohen's story couldn't help but remind me of all my mistaken times when I confused the wrong kind of attention for the right kind of intimacy.

Told in a writing style that's almost a form of literary short-hand, it's a swift memoir (just over 200 pages) that recounts Cohen's tumultuous tween, teen and young adult years. Conflicted about her parents's divorce, caught between her mother's ambition and need to better her own life, and left behind by friend and foe, she falls deeper into her life of promiscuity.

Navigating adolescence is never easy, and for young girls who grow up traumatized in any way, I'm guessing it gets even harder. No, I know it gets even harder, when there's no one you can really turn to for help. Wanting love is different from wanting any kind of male attention -- but that's a hard lesson for Cohen to learn, one that comes at a great cost to her burgeoning sense of self. She yearns for a boyfriend but never seems to find a boy who'll stick around after sex. And when the nameless, faceless, can't remember hims add up and add up, she needs to come to terms with the fact that all the sexual acts aren't remotely satisfying.

The book, however, is deeply satisfying. Cohen recounts her story with a clear and crisp voice, allows the reader to feel deeply empathetic for what she went through, and there are moments when it's impossible not to see or feel yourself in her shoes. The ending is a little abrupt, but it's not necessarily awkward. It's more that I was enjoying the story so much that I wanted to read on and on -- to see the resolution vs. just imagine it from her implications. Regardless, it's a seductive piece of work for all the right reasons.


Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog, but I absolutely love it! I especially love your reviews of books, (naturally). Do you by anychance have a running list of the names of the books you've read? Keep doing what you do... you rock!

John Mutford said...

For some reason I had this listed as a read for the Canadian Book Challenge in the 1st update, despite the fact that you clearly indicate Cohen is American. Ooops. Sounds good though.

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