Leah Vincent's memoir Cut Me Loose, a copy of which was provided to me by Penguin, is the story of her growing up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish household and her subsequent separation from that life. I've got a lot of feelings about it.
First of all, I'm gonna say that if you read this, which you should if you are interested in a perspective that is not your own and sometimes quite challenging, read the new paperback edition with the afterword. I would've had way more questions without it, and it gives much more of a sense of finality to the story than the original ending.
So. This story. I tend to read memoirs by women who have left conservative religions, because that was my self-imposed deal. My parents aren't hardcore Christians, but I decided at 13 that most of what I liked was sinful and I was always failing and a pretty terrible person. I'm not saying this is what Christianity teaches AT ALL -- I'm still a Christian, albeit a much more liberal one -- but it was the message I absorbed from my school. I didn't leave this way of thinking until about 24, and it's been a hard road of questioning and reconfiguring and trying to maintain a belief system while not believing what I used to.
Leah's story is hard because after her rejection by her family, she goes down a pretty bad path. She explains in the afterword that she tried to write what was happening from her perspective at the time, which was helpful to know, because when I read it, she didn't seem too upset by some very, very dangerous decisions she was making. Which is actually maybe an unfair opinion because those decisions sent her to a mental hospital for a bit.
Her lack of education about the secular world coupled with her extreme insecurities lead to behavior that makes you want to grab her and shake her, yelling "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, THESE ARE ALL TERRIBLE CHOICES." But the greater point she's making is that people, especially women, in the culture in which she was raised, are not prepared at all for life outside their community. Vincent wrote a pretty great article where she talks about how much she relates to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: 'Kimmy Schmidt' Is My Ex-Orthodox Life.
If you would like to read this! Penguin is providing me with a giveaway copy.
So if you wanna be entered, DO mention so below. It's US only, so, sorry for keeping up our WWI isolationist policy solely in the area of book giveaways, but we like to keep American books in America, y'know?*
*note: not true at all; I am so sorry, my Canadian brothers and sisters
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