Sunday, February 16, 2014

Leah Vincent

     I just finished the latest off the derech National Enquirer tell all penned by Leah Vincent. I was thoroughly unimpressed. I would have preferred to have read The National Enquirer or Star Magazine.
     The book is called Cut Me Loose - Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood. It starts out with Leah , one of eleven children growing up in a yeshivish home in Pittsburgh. At that point I found it a little difficult to take her seriously. Growing up yeshivish in Pittsburgh is a lot different than growing up yeshivish in Brooklyn. She herself says she was sent to Manchester , England for high school because her family felt it would be a more appropriate so she obviously was exposed to people of different levels of religious as a child. Then again , I grew up orthodox outside of New York and though I was not yeshivish , out of town actually is a lot more sheltered than Brooklyn because you don't have  New York City beckoning only a subway ride away. Just being shomer shabbos and kosher and having a good Torah education gives you a different culture and when you mingle with secular people you are unfamilar with their standards. It may be a bit more pronounced if you grow up yeshivish or hassidish, but you are kidding yourself if you think being more modern makes you just like a secular person. So to begin with I forgave her a little for saying she had a difficult time merging with secular society. But then I read the rest of the book.
     Over time Vincent began to push the limits with her parents and after high school ended up in New York. Her parents found her a job and an apartment  and paid her first month's rent.  After that she was on her own. After this point the tabloid begins. She blames her parents for her lack of friends and loneliness which she claims lead her to years of living as a degenerate.
      Vincent lived in Kensington , Brooklyn which is on the outskirts of Boro Park and Midwood and are both chock full of OTD youth. Fifteen years ago when her supposed meltdown occurred there were plenty of young people who were full of questions who lived in the neighborhood that she lived in. I find it hard to believe that she was not able to find ANY of them to commiserate with . Instead she had a Rastafarian drug dealer boyfriend who she had an affair with. Gee that makes sense. I find it hard to believe that someone who grew up so sheltered would feel comfortable hanging with someone so degenerate. She eventually starts cutting herself, at some point is in a psych ward (where she should have stayed longer if you ask me) , becomes a prostitute for a few days and has an affair with an older , married Brooklyn college professor . Why would ANYONE  think that being a prostitute is a great idea? Why would someone with Leah's background not befriend any secular or modern orthodox or average respectable gentiles at Brooklyn college? Why would Leah think when her three times her age married lover's wife called her up and yelled at her for having an affair with her husband that she wasn't at fault since she was single?  Inquiring  minds want to know.
        The book reads like a bad version of a small town girl goes to the big city and does every bad thing she could do before she sobers up. Every time you think she could not have done anything more absurd she does. It almost seems fictional . How could anyone be so stupid? If she really did all the scandalous deeds she mentions why would she want put them in a memoir for all to see? Would she not be embarrassed?
       Vincent would like to blame all of her sins on her parents and a religion that is very strict about the separation of the sexes. She feels that because her parents equated writing letters to a boy to being slutty that it left her no choice but to fulfill that prophecy. Baloney. Her parents were not perfect. I don't think anyone religious or secular has perfect parents. After reading Leah's story I have sided with her parents. They were right to be strict with her. They were afraid that she would do the crazy things that she claims she did in her book.  However, it is clear from this memoir that Leah had a lot of untreated mental issues which it is too bad that her parents perhaps could have gotten her help for before she spun out of control . I am sure that they could not imagine that she would have such poor judgement. In my opinion not getting Leah proper mental health help was their only crime, the rest was her  own creation. You can only blame your parents and your religion so much. At some point you have to take responsibility for your actions.
        I think that part of my problem with reading these OTD  books is that I want to read the story about the person who leaves their hasidic or yeshivish world , gets job , goes to college, gets married , lives a normal life, respects that even though they may not want to be observant that there are different strokes for different folks and they just move on . When I find a book like this I will let you know. I guess the people who end up normal don't need to write books about it. Though he's a bit of a nut, Shalom Auslander's book Foreskin's Lament still remains the best of the OTD books so far.
        In the meantime if you want to read about scandal read about the Kardashians or Paris Hilton rather than read Vincent's book. They are much more interesting.



tesyaa said...

No one wants to read a book about a normal person who leaves religion but goes on to live a boring, conventional life. What's more, such a person might spend quite a bit of time discussing intellectual reasons why religion is not believable - which most frum Jews don't want to read about. So a boring book by a kofer will not be a big seller.

frum single female said...

Either way, Vincent's book does not make her look too good . If you ask me whoever published her book is exploiting her. LOL.

Princess Lea said...

A few weeks ago Vincent was featured in the "Modern Love" segment in the NY Times. There, of course, she does the typical "My mother was constantly pregnant so she was oppressed" bit, then blames her parents some more for why she slept around (she says because she was seeking acceptance and love or something).

She goes so far to say that when some deadbeat called her for a booty call, she happily went because she grew up in a patriarchal culture. I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

These girls with their "grand reveals" are mediocre sensationalists seeking attention, and publishing houses give them an outlet with no confirmation of the facts. Shame, shame.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

This is someething I harp on and on about but no one seems to pay attention.
We raise frum kids to participate in rituals. Very nice. Perhaps we'd be better served by instilling ethics into them and chastising them when they fail to be polite instead of fail to wake up on time to daven. When Vincent lost her rituals she became a blank slate and the surrounding society wrote its values onto her.

frum single female said...

Spot on MGH