Sunday, December 20, 2009

Loose Girl: A Book Review

Deborah Garcia

Some girls turn to anorexia. Others to alcohol, drugs, cutting, sports, ambition. I chose promiscuity.

Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity opens with self-effacing honesty on a difficult topic: charged sexuality among young girls. Kerry Cohen's memoir envelops her readers in sharply focused sensuous descriptions of her earliest sexual experiences that begin during her early teenage years and extend to adulthood. Her tale is common and relatable: as a young girl, Kerry quickly learns that her body and giving it over can command the desperate attention she seeks to harness from boys. More so, her emergent sexuality seals a fundamental truth: her body and sexuality provide an immediate conduit of control many seek over insecurity, self-esteem, and self-importance.

Loose Girl balances an uneasy awareness with a private narrative tone. The work’s established tone is borne from hindsight filled with shame, regret, and poignant insight to the kind of damage Cohen’s relentless promiscuity dealt to her emotional well-being. Confessional, conciliatory, and cautionary, Loose Girl challenges the reader to dissect our views on young girls’ early sexual experiences — a topic ensconced in some amount of cultural silence — and follow her introspection to understand and rise above emotional needs so commonly tangled up in our own adult sex lives.

We follow Cohen from her early teenage years to adult years wrestling with issues intertwined with her sexual awakening. Common issues surrounding her beauty in comparison to her peers, her body image as she perceives it and by boys whom she finds appealing, and more complicatedly, a burning and relentless need to find proof of her worth and ability to be loved. It is this last issue that governs and controls her frequent impulse to seek sex randomly, promiscuously, and irresponsibly.

In the memoir’s afterward, “A Conversation with Kerry Cohen,” a loose girl is defined as “a girl who has been badly emotionally hurt and attempts to ease that hurt through male attention and sexual behavior. … She is not wantonly or gratuitously trying to get sexual attention.” Perhaps because this is Cohen’s memoir and not discursive critique, the thorny issue of addressing girls who are sluts is clear cut and includes a tacit understanding that girls who have sexual experiences inside of relationships falls outside the realm of slutty behavior.

Loose Girl refrains from lecturing. It is a highly compassionate and feeling memoir. Loss and pain are buried beneath Cohen’s sexually dominant id. Time and time again, her sexual experiences leave her with deep longings — longings she understands come from profound emptiness and sorrow.

For everyone who was that girl.
For everyone who knew that girl.
For everyone who wondered who that girl was.

Kerry Cohen’s official Web site,, highlights Cohen’s upcoming psychology and parenting book on the loose girl issue. She writes, “There are tons of books with evidence why gorls [sic] shouldn’t have sex, tons of books about rape and molestation, tons of books about the grown-up slut. But this will be the first book - like Loose Girl - that addresses the issue of addiction to male attention, how it’s culturally fueled and so hard to avoid.” The author welcomes reader comments and contact to be interviewed for her book.

Deborah Garcia is a publishing and writing professional
born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.
Continuing to straddle cultural fronteras,
she moved back to her hometown in 2008
after having spent half of her life
on the East Coast.


msedano said...

Sounds like it should attract a wide audience, from YA to parents. Thanks for the review, Deborah, and Liz.


DG said...

Mr. Sedano, thank you for the comment. The author provides a rich topic for study and personal introspection. As well, her writing style is unique stylistically. I hope readers will consider reading her memoir. -DGarcia