Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen
Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen’s captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction – not just to sex, but to male attention—Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning.
Never less than riveting, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment when a girl tries to control a boy by handing over her body, when the touch of that boy seems to offer proof of something but ultimately delivers little more than emptiness.
The unforgettable story of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.
1. The book’s title, Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity, suggests Kerry Cohen’s memoir will be a romp through her sexual exploits, and indeed, there is a lot of sex. Was the sex different than the sex in a romantic novel? In what ways? Was Kerry’s sex life different than you would have expected from the title? Why do you think Kerry titled the book as she did?
2. The first chapter opens with the line, “I am eleven the day I begin to understand what it means to be a girl.” What does it mean to be a girl for Kerry? What does being a girl mean to you?
3. Kerry uses the words “boy” and “guy” throughout the book, but almost never “men.” What is the significance of this word choice?
4. Near the end of the book, Kerry writes, “This isn’t a story about how some guy finally saves me from myself. I’m my own hero; I do the saving.” Do you think this is true? Why would this be important for Kerry’s story?
5. Kerry discusses the sluts of her high school years. Did you have sluts in your school? What did you think of them then? Do you think of them differently now?
6. What do you think led Kerry down the path she went? Could anything have saved her from having done so? Do you think she chose to be promiscuous? Are other addictions (like alcohol or drugs) a choice?
7. Kerry talks about finding herself in the pages of books she reads her senior year of high school. What do you think she means? Do your find yourself in the pages of her book? How so?
8. As one might expect, Kerry experiences STDs, pregnancy scares, and HIV scares. One might say she comes out unscathed. Do you agree? How has Kerry possibly been harmed for good?
9. Before Kerry leaves for college, she has an experience that is undoubtedly rape, but she writes that the word “rape” doesn’t occur to her at the time. How can this be? Why do you think this line between rape and voluntary sex gets confused for her?
10. Kerry has admitted that it took ten years for her to get from the first nugget of an idea to a finished draft of Loose Girl. Certainly, writing a book can take a long time, but why do you imagine this was true for Loose Girl? What precedents are there in our culture for the subject matter she took on in Loose Girl?
11. What would you say were the threads that led Kerry out of her desperation and to the ability to make better decisions? Do you believe Kerry is “cured”? Are people ever cured of their childhood struggles? What struggles did you face? Are you cured?
12. In her introduction, Kerry writes that she started the book by trying to make a list of the people she’d slept with. Why do you think she had such a hard time compiling this list? Have you ever tried to make such a list? What was your experience?