Review: Dirty Little Secrets by Kerry Cohen

Dirty Little Secrets / Kerry Cohen

Expected publication: September 1st 2011 by Sourcebooks, Incorporated.

* In compliance with FTC guidelines, it should be noted that I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Description from GoodReads:

From the author of the provocative hit memoir Loose Girl, this is an eye-opening look at the dangerous, secretive world of today’s adolescent girls who use casual sex as a means to prove their worth-to boys, to friends, and to themselves. Cohen examines how we got to this point, where young women use male attention like a drug and why they keep going back, even though the behavior is often self-destructive. Featuring current research and interviews with over 70 girls, this is a wake-up call for parents everywhere that’s not to be missed.

When I found out I won this on GoodReads First Reads, I was excited.  I read Cohen’s memoir, Loose Girl, earlier this year.  I thought it was a moving piece and a rare look into the life of a girl society views as a “slut”.  It was not an easy read and it left me feeling rather sad and sorry for the girl on the page.

This was not an easy read either.  The inclusion of other people’s stories seemed very interesting to me.  It is difficult to review books like this.  And I have to say, I did not like it.  Some parts bored me as it went on and on and on about statistics and definitions that I’ve already read several pages prior. It became repetitive.  The personal stories didn’t really do much apart from introducing an idea.  I would’ve liked a story wherein some of the perspectives were put into action.  They were interesting (and again, rather sad) but I just couldn’t feel for and/or connect with these women.  The “shock value” came from the numbers – how old they were and how many sexual partners they’ve had – instead of the actual content of their experiences.

Also, it was difficult reading this without ones personal beliefs kicking in.  I’m not saying I disagreed with everything the book says and stands for.  But I couldn’t help but think that some of them did not actually empower girls and women; instead, make them seem more feeble and weak.   But hey, what do I know?

To be honest, I found so little empowerment in this book.  As a woman, I even felt slightly insulted.  It’s as if women are incapable of controlling their lives and their person.  That there is only ONE and narrow road to a healthy relationship with the opposite sex.  That sex is nothing more than a tool.  I don’t remember the book talking about the good that can come out of sex.  I understand that this is primarily for and about “loose girls” but how about the other teen girls who will read this?  On one page, it’s telling her that it’s okay to talk, think about, and ultimately have sex.  But on the next page, it is scaring her with what can (and according to the whole tone book, will) happen once you try it, you’ll want it all the time.  I’m confused at to what this book really wants to say.  Not to mention, it came across as preachy and annoyingly self-righteous.

Overall, I was disappointed.  I could not relate to the book and it just bored me.

Rating: 2/5.

Recommendation: Teen girls and their parents, especially mothers.  This can be a valuable reference to school guidance counselors.

Get your copy here.


8 thoughts on “Review: Dirty Little Secrets by Kerry Cohen

    • It was very disappointing. “Loose Girl” was an eye opener and was actually empowering. This one was condescending and self-righteous.

      I should’ve dropped it sooner, to be honest. It has a 20-some page introduction section and from there, it got boring. It droned, but I figured because this is sort of like a textbook reference, it’s supposed to be that way. But I was just boring.

      Try browsing through it and see if you can tough it out. It wasn’t compelling at all. 😦


  1. I actually really liked this book. I thought Cohen did a great job of exploring the reality of the challenges women face when it comes to exploring their own sexuality. I don’t think Cohen meant to be preachy or scare girls; I think her goal was to start the conversation about how we need to recognize the cultural constraints we’ve put on girls and allow them the opportunity to openly talk about sex.

    However, you said you just couldn’t relate to the book, and I can see how that’s going to happen for some people. Personally, I wish everyone I know would read the book, but I know I can’t recommend it to everyone I know because some just won’t relate to it at all or have any interest in the topic.

    Interesting to read someone else’s review!


    • I tried to somehow relate to it but I just couldn’t. We all have different experiences and I think I have not encountered this in my life yet so I don’t know how what to make of this.

      And yes, it’s not for everybody but still, it is a useful reference. I’m glad that you liked this. I am sure there are many out there who will like this also. And it does open up areas of conversation that can be helpful to many girls and women.

      Thank you! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Books Read in 2011 (Part 1) | Reading Good Books

  3. For those of us who are “loose girls” I can attest that this book resonated quite strongly with me. Highly recommend it.


  4. Pingback: TOP TEN TUESDAYS | I got through it… eventually. | Reading Good Books


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