STARRED REVIEW
February 2014

Rejecting religion, finding faith in herself

By Leah Vincent

Leah Vincent is a good girl who loves her rabbi father. In her Yeshivish community—a sect within ultra-Orthodox Judaism—she’s a girl “who would never sneak a kosher candy bar that did not carry the extra strict cholov Yisroel certification.”

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Leah Vincent is a good girl who loves her rabbi father. In her Yeshivish community—a sect within ultra-Orthodox Judaism—she’s a girl “who would never sneak a kosher candy bar that did not carry the extra strict cholov Yisroel certification.”

Vincent yearns for little more than to live devotedly the only life available to her: Follow Jewish laws strictly, marry the right man and have his children. When she leaves her home in Pittsburgh to attend high school in Manchester, England, she meets her best friend’s brother, Naftali. It’s not long before she’s not only aching with lust and love for him, but also beginning to question her religious teachings. She writes letters to Naftali filled with theological questions. When her aunt in Manchester discovers the letters, Vincent’s life spirals out of control, as her parents turn their backs on her because of her “immoral” action of writing letters to a boy. Overnight, she is on her own without any financial or emotional support. 

In Cut Me Loose, Vincent details her harrowing journey as she wanders through harmful relationships and destructive actions, such as cutting her body. As she hits bottom, Vincent realizes that the “life she is trying to craft is doomed to failure.” Although she eventually achieves a measure of redemption, she learns that too much freedom, like too much restriction, has its pitfalls.

Vincent’s compulsively readable memoir draws us into her fears, her few joys and her complete aloneness as she struggles to navigate the course of a new life.

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Cut Me Loose

Cut Me Loose

By Leah Vincent
Nan A. Talese
ISBN 9780385538091

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