How do we approach memoirs when some accuse it of not being accurate. I think all we can do it accept it as the author has packaged it, read it, and then make our own conclusions. Some readers saw the author, Leah, on Katie Couric and say her comments on the show contradict the words in her book, and are being said to promote sales. Others take issue with the promotional blurbs that say she was cut off from her family. If she was cut off, then why did her mother pay her rent and find her a job in NYC? If she was cutoff, why do her parents refer to their 11 children and not just ten?
These are tangential to the story, I think. Primarily, we have the memoir of a woman who as a teen found her ultra Orthodox life confining, and ended up making poor decisions, based on her education and desires, that led to sexual abuse, prostitution, illness, Harvard grad school, and mental illnesses.
In the vein of Prozac Nation and Girl, Interrupted, a memoir about a young woman’s promiscuous and self-destructive spiral after leaving her Yeshivash ultra-Orthodox Jewish family.
You can read it as memoir or semi fiction. Events have been compressed or changed to make it a better read. The fifth of 11 children, she says she was cut off from her family, but yet it also appears her other sent her funds and help, etc. etc. There are two sides to the stories, and of course, we are only reading one side, but nevertheless, it is an interesting, lurid, sex filled, triumphant memoir, but if you are planning to comdemn her family, you better read between the lines carefully.
Leah Vincent was born into the Yeshivish community in Western Pennsylvania. As the daughter of an influential rabbi, Leah and her ten siblings were raised to worship two things: God and the men who ruled their world. But the tradition-bound future Leah envisioned for herself was cut short when, at sixteen, she was caught exchanging letters with a male friend, a violation of religious law that forbids contact between members of the opposite sex. He was cute and the brother of her friend, and she had romantic and sexual desires that a 16 year old woman could not suppress
Leah’s parents were unforgiving. Afraid, in part, that her behavior would affect the marriage prospects of their other children, they put her on a plane and cut off ties. (note: the book’s description says they cut off ties, but the book itself says her mother got her a job, a room, sent her extra money. She wanted to be independent, so now she was independent. Also, her older sisters were sent to NYC too, so it is not as if this was unusual)
In New York City, Leah writes that she was unprepared to navigate the freedoms of secular life. She spent the next few years using her sexuality. One bf was a Jamaican drug dealer. Another liked too much porn, so she broke up with him. She gets a painful STD and is hospitalized. She also is hospitalized for a mental health issue. Fast-paced and mesmerizing, she gets a GRE, a college degree at Brooklyn College, and is admitted to Harvard, Cut Me Loose tells the story of one woman’s harrowing struggle to define herself as an individual. Through Leah’s recollections, we see what she found to be an oppressive adolescence and a world of religious fundamentalism, but also the broader issues that face even the most secular young women as they grapple with their sexuality, use of sexual intercourse for acceptance, and identity.