Easy

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Overview

Easy. At the ripe young age of fourteen Jessica has discovered that getting the attention she wants is just that — easy. It's not the attention of a divorced mother who spends all of her time grieving over a broken marriage. Nor is it that of a father with a new girlfriend who's moving on with his life. It's certainly not the attention of a clueless older sister or a best friend since grade school who still acts like she's in grade school. No. For some reason being noticed by her friends and family seems to have ...

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Overview

Easy. At the ripe young age of fourteen Jessica has discovered that getting the attention she wants is just that — easy. It's not the attention of a divorced mother who spends all of her time grieving over a broken marriage. Nor is it that of a father with a new girlfriend who's moving on with his life. It's certainly not the attention of a clueless older sister or a best friend since grade school who still acts like she's in grade school. No. For some reason being noticed by her friends and family seems to have become almost impossible. Boys — and men — are a different matter altogether. With the right clothes and attitude, Jessica realizes that she can get all the male attention she wants.

What she doesn't realize is how easy it is to get more than you're ready for.

In this compelling and often harrowing novel for teen readers, first-time author Kerry Cohen Hoffmann delves into the mind of a teenage girl as she attempts to replace the shifting relationships with friends and family with sexual exploration. With candid storytelling rooted in years of personal experience, Mrs. Hoffmann offers a searing look at how easy it is to take a wrong turn in search for the right answers.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Life has suddenly turned rocky for fourteen-year-old Jessica. Her family is preoccupied with divorce, depression, and remarriage; her best friend does not understand her; and her body has developed alien curves and thrilling but confusing urges. Looking for her "chance to matter" and to sate those urges, Jessica finds herself doing things she knows are dangerous. She picks up a twenty-year-old stranger, performs oral sex, makes out (and more) with popular boys who then toss her aside, and pointlessly loses her virginity. It takes the combination of a pregnancy scare, her father's sympathetic fiancTe, and her own abiding passion for photography for Jessica's self-respect to reassert itself and guide her back on track. When surrounded by books full of abuse, rape, and drug use, Jessica's cautionary tale might seem almost mundane. The familiarity of Jessica's life will enable easy connection with readers, however, and allow the story to pack a real punch. Although cringing parents-rather than the book's intended audience-might feel the most impact, it is sobering to see how easily an intelligent, "normal" girl could slide right into Jessica's high-heeled boots. Hoffman's stark, perceptive prose spares no blushes in describing Jessica's sexual encounters, although the descriptions are painfully realistic rather than gratuitous. One curious omission is any mention of STDs. Jessica's self-castigation may seem overtly didactic at times and the pat ending too upbeat, but the story will resonate with those confused by the allure of bad decisions, and it might give others insight into the pain of a so-called "slut." VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Willappeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Simon & Schuster, 176p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Rebecca C. Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-With the hindsight provided by two years' maturity, Jessica looks back on the year her parents divorced, her mother withdrew, her father moved in with his girlfriend, and she herself slipped into sexual activity that she almost immediately regretted. Hoffmann vividly depicts how a 12-year-old's confused desperation, need for comfort, and inability to know when or how to stop self-destructive behavior lead her down a perilous path. Even well-meaning friends and a concerned teacher have difficulty breaking through to her. It's almost an accident when an observant neighbor alerts her mother to a suspicious stranger-Jessica's lover-helping the girl to end that relationship. A pregnancy scare gives her additional reason to reflect on and question what she's been up to. In the end, she has the luck and support that enable her to change course. The writing is realistic, insightful, and nonjudgmental. This book can provide teens with some understanding as to why people might make risky choices while offering readers the assurance that bad decisions need not be irrevocable.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Add this one to the recent influx of titles about relationships between teenaged girls and older men. Jessica is 14, and frustrated with the turn her once stable home life has taken due to her parents' divorce. Typical for the age, Jessica is boy-crazy and aware of her blossoming sexuality. Against her best friend's advice, she begins to use sex as a way to gain the attention she feels she lacks, and soon starts to earn a reputation for being easy. She begins to feel uncomfortable, however, when she goes too far with an older man to whom she's lied about her age. Only then does Jessica wisely begin to use her talent for photography to deal with her emotions. Teen girls may be drawn in by the scintillating plot, but Jessica's petulance is tiresome. She takes her friend's unconditional support for granted and dismisses the encouragement of her art teacher, focusing instead on her parents' inattentiveness. Although teen promiscuity is certainly a worthy topic, other titles (R.A. Nelson's Teach Me and Leslea Newman's Jailbait, both 2005) tackle the subject more convincingly. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416914266
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/11/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 713,953
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kerry Cohen Hoffmann is a psychotherapist who works with teens and their families. She received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Oregon and an MA in counseling psychology. A mother of two, she is a native of New Jersey but makes her home in Portland, Oregon.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

It's two years ago, and I'm just about to turn twelve. At home things are just about to turn too. My mother spends most of her time crying in the bedroom or the kitchen, or wherever someone might hear. To get away, I'm in the woods near the house. Wandering. Suddenly he's there, walking toward me. His face blank. His breathing ragged, audible. I've seen him before. He's mentally retarded. The boy who never grew up. But he's different this time. There's something distant in his eyes, and strange. As he comes closer, I see why — his fly is open and from it stands his erect penis. It's pale and fishlike, an alien thing. I take a step backward. He stares at me and says nothing. I turn and run —

Screeching brakes from a semitruck bring me back. I'm on one of my walks, waiting to cross the busy freeway. The driver is watching me and blasts the horn. He's maybe thirty years old, wearing a white tank top. He has blond hair and thick stubble. His window is rolled all the way down and his arm rests on the top. He sits up high, but he's close enough for me to see the sun glinting off the pale, short hairs on his arm. My eyes lock on his and he flashes a warm, friendly grin. There is something else in his eyes too. He's interested, admiring.

My body fills with warmth, as though heat is seeping from the sidewalk through my flip-flops all the way to my face. I like the feeling, his eyes lingering on my small new breasts. I smile back. I reach into my pocket for my camera.

"Hey, there," he says. Before I can take a picture, the brakes of the truck release, the gears shift, and he is gone. I watch after him, wanting something, wishing there were more. Wondering if his erect penis looks pale and fishlike.

When I get back to my house, my sister Anne is sweeping the kitchen floor.

"Hey," I say. I want to tell her about the man in the truck, but what would I say? She pauses a moment, looks at me, and pushes her glasses up the bridge of her nose. She's only two years older than I am, but sometimes she's like a middle-aged woman.

"Where have you been, Jessica?" Mom is at the sink, sponging a counter. Her arm moves in quick jabs. She turns to frown at me. It's Dad's weekend with Anne and me, so Mom is starting her regular meltdown. Even though they divorced almost a year ago, she won't forgive Dad for the affair.

"I took a walk," I say.

"You wanted that expensive photography class, and then you don't show up."

Oops. I forgot.

When I signed up for the four-week class in June, it was all I could think about. I couldn't wait for the class to start. Mom turns around again so I can see only her petite back and dark hair. She is a bundle of darkness.

"Who do you think I am? Your personal chauffeur? I'm supposed to wait for you? I have a life too," she says.

I set my mouth so I won't blurt out anything. Mom misunderstands whatever I say. I go up to my room. The contest information sits on my desk. Ruth's handwriting is at the top: DON'T FORGET! She's been my art teacher since seventh grade. The big blue letters seem to mock me. "Forget" is my new middle name. Ruth's in charge at our school of this year's national high school art contest. The prize is five thousand dollars and a chance to show your work in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., where thousands of people will see it. This is the first year I'll be able to submit my work. I just started my first year in high school.

"You have a gift," Ruth told me once while sifting through photos I had just developed in the darkroom. I've held on to that idea ever since: a gift, waiting to be unwrapped. I want more than anything to win that prize. And not for the money. For the chance to be seen.

The deadline is December fifteenth, three months away. The theme of this year's contest is self-portrait. Last year it was nature. That sounds much easier.

I take my digital Canon out of my pocket, place it carefully on the desk, and pick up the manual Canon that Dad bought for my twelfth birthday. I stand in front of the floor-length mirror. Other than my long light hair and the mole on my jaw, I barely recognize myself. My hips are wide, my breasts swollen. I have three zits on my forehead. Even my feet seem strange and not mine.

How will I take a self-portrait if I don't know who I am anymore? I hold up the camera, adjust the focus, and snap! I don't know what the picture will look like, but sometimes my camera sees better than I do.

I hear a horn honking outside. It's Dad in his white Mustang. I come downstairs just in time to see Mom running to her room without saying good-bye. I catch Anne looking back at the stairs twice before she closes the door behind us. Anne and I hump our backpacks out to the car. It is late afternoon, almost evening. My favorite time of day, when the sky seems to lift and the sun shoots out at an angle, no longer right overhead and punishing. All the photos I take in this light come out tinted blue.

"There's my girls," Dad says. He's leaning against the passenger door, his smile big, his light hair flapping a bit in the breeze. He reaches out to take our packs, and, though Anne lets him take her bag, she shrinks away from him when he goes to hug her. I let him hug me, though. He rustles my hair, which is the same color as his. Then he looks me up and down. I cross my arms over my chest, not wanting him to see my breasts.

"Every time I see you girls lately, you look so different that you'd think I hadn't seen you in years." He says it cheerfully, but when I look at his face, I can see that he's sad. I wait for him to say something about the sadness, but he just smiles and opens the car door for me. Anne avoids his eyes, but I smile back, knowing it's what he wants — his girls should be cheerful too.

"Can we have Friendly's tonight?" I ask as soon as we're all in the car.

Anne's in the front seat. I'm in the back. Dad looks over at Anne, whose gaze is fixed out the window. "What do you think, Anne?"

Anne shrugs. "Whatever."

I press my fingers into the vinyl seat, trying to think of something good to say, something that will take Dad's mind off Anne's attitude. "Let's go to the one near the mini-golf course."

"Sounds like a plan," Dad says. Then, "We just have to make one stop."

My stomach drops. "I knew it," Anne says.

"You just have to get to know her," Dad says. His voice is pleading. "Dana's really great."

"I'm sure," Anne says. She still won't look at him.

"I thought it was just going to be us this weekend," I say. It has been every other weekend, just Dad and Anne and me.

"Well," Dad says, "starting this weekend things are going to be different."

After dinner we walk into Dad's apartment. It's strange to see all his things, all the stuff he bought when he moved in. I pull my digital out of my pocket and eye the room through the screen. A one-bedroom with a foldout futon for a couch. A TV. A desk with Dad's computer. A kitchen table with four metal-legged chairs.

Dana shows up in the screen. I follow her with the lens. She walks into the kitchen, opens a cabinet, and pulls out a glass, knowing where everything is. She flips her blond hair over a shoulder and turns on the tap to fill her glass. She is comfortable here.

Dad enters the screen. He comes up beside Dana, puts a hand on the small of her back, just above her butt. He knows where everything is too. I glance over at Anne to see if she's watching, but she is already sitting on the futon, her bag on her lap, putting on her I-hate-being-here-so-let's-just-get-this-over-with look. She didn't say one word during dinner.

That night Anne and I lie on the futon. The mattress is hard. Shadows of leaves jump across the ceiling, making pretty shapes. I can hear the hum of cars on the street. It is always hard to fall asleep the first night here. Especially tonight, knowing Dana is here in the bedroom with Dad. Knowing they are together, under the covers. I focus on Anne's breathing, hoping the pulse of her breath will quiet my mind, but I can tell by the quickness that she is awake too.

Instead I think about boys. It is what I do lately when I can't sleep: I pick a boy — one I know, one I saw, or one I made up — and I imagine how things might go. Tonight I imagine there is a new boy in the ninth grade. He has dark shaggy hair hanging into his eyes, and he wears ruined jeans low on his hips. He doesn't know his way around yet, so he asks me where algebra class is. Wouldn't you know it? We have algebra together. After school we get on the same bus because, it turns out, he just moved into a house on my street. After the bus drops us off, we walk together and talk about everything. Then, in front of my house, he leans forward and kisses me. Soon his hands are in my hair and on my back. "You're what I've been waiting for," he whispers, and he presses his warm body against mine. His hands work their way down my back to my behind, and he pulls me into him — Just then a noise breaks into my fantasy, a sound I don't quite recognize.

I listen. It's Dana, making noises with my father, on the other side of the wall. My stomach goes hollow and the blood rushes into my face. Worse, I can feel a tingle between my legs, sent there by my fantasy boy, but egged on by Dana's moans. I slide my hands up slowly to cover my ears, hoping I don't wake Anne. Anne rolls away from me. She hears it too.

Copyright © 2006 by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 82 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(34)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 82 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2006

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    If there was ever a book that captures the extreme discomfort of coming into your own self, then EASY is that book. Fourteen-year-old Jessica lives a life in turmoil. Whether all of the turmoil is real or imagined doesn't matter. What's important is that for this girl who once knew exactly who she was and what place she held in the world, she no longer knows anything at all. It was simple once. There was her mom, and dad, and older sister, Anne. There was school and her best friend, Elisabeth. Most of all there was photography, and Ruth, the art teacher she's had since seventh grade. But now her parents are divorced her mom is unable to cope, and her dad has a new girlfriend, Dana, who caused her parent's split. Anne is busy alternately hating their father and being the parent to their mother. Ruth is equally busy hounding Jessica for her self-portrait that's to be entered in the national high school art contest. But Jessica doesn't find the same comfort behind the camera that she'd once took for granted. In fact, Jessica doesn't take comfort in much of anything, except the new-found confidence she has when she's around members of the opposite sex. She finds herself lying in bed at night, reconstructing scenes with Jason, her crush. Somehow, though, it's not enough, this wanting from afar. Her body has changed, almost beyond recognition, and the catcalls and whistles from guys on the street give Jessica a feeling she hasn't had before--that of being admired, wanted, needed. When she meets Ted, a guy in his twenties who stops for her on the highway, her initial wariness quickly turns to feelings of power. This guy desires her. He needs her. She, the girl who hasn't felt loved or wanted for such a long time, finally has the type of power that makes her feel alive. This type of power doesn't last, and it's only a matter of time before Jessica figures this out. While her father is planning to marry his once-mistress, and her sister gets an actual boyfriend, and her mother revels in her misery, it will take some drastic circumstances before Jessica realizes just what, exactly, she's become. When she finally figures out which photograph to use for her self-portrait, it's not pretty. But neither, she realizes, is real life. This is a book that, like its title suggests, is terribly easy to relate to. Even in this day and age, it is extremely simple for females to equate desire and attraction with self-worth and love. Whether it's the way of our society or the fault of the media, young girls especially learn from an early age that being wanted by males makes you a better female. EASY shows, without ever being preachy or self-effacing, the fallacy in this way of thinking. This is a definite winner that I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. Kudos to Ms. Hoffmann for such an emotional, heartfelt story.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    A person who cant stand reading.

    I LOVED this book. and i HATE reading. I picked this book up and couldnt put it down. I read it in 2 hrs. i no wow. Its a great book. and i recommend it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    I loved this book alot! I couldn't put it down i finnished it in one day. This book is so relateable. I urge you to read it :]

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2008

    Fantastic Book

    I found this book at the library and thought it was good by just reading the back- I was right. From start to end, Jessica's character is real and someone that I can relate to. This book was just great...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    If there was ever a book that captures the extreme discomfort of coming into your own self, then EASY is that book. Fourteen-year-old Jessica lives a life in turmoil. Whether all of the turmoil is real or imagined doesn't matter. What's important is that for this girl who once knew exactly who she was and what place she held in the world, she no longer knows anything at all. <BR/><BR/>It was simple once. There was her mom, and dad, and older sister, Anne. There was school and her best friend, Elisabeth. Most of all there was photography, and Ruth, the art teacher she's had since seventh grade. But now her parents are divorced; her mom is unable to cope, and her dad has a new girlfriend, Dana, who caused her parent's split. Anne is busy alternately hating their father and being the parent to their mother. Ruth is equally busy hounding Jessica for her self-portrait that's to be entered in the national high school art contest. <BR/><BR/>But Jessica doesn't find the same comfort behind the camera that she'd once took for granted. In fact, Jessica doesn't take comfort in much of anything, except the new-found confidence she has when she's around members of the opposite sex. She finds herself lying in bed at night, reconstructing scenes with Jason, her crush. Somehow, though, it's not enough, this wanting from afar. Her body has changed, almost beyond recognition, and the catcalls and whistles from guys on the street give Jessica a feeling she hasn't had before--that of being admired, wanted, needed. <BR/><BR/>When she meets Ted, a guy in his twenties who stops for her on the highway, her initial wariness quickly turns to feelings of power. This guy desires her. He needs her. She, the girl who hasn't felt loved or wanted for such a long time, finally has the type of power that makes her feel alive. <BR/><BR/>This type of power doesn't last, and it's only a matter of time before Jessica figures this out. While her father is planning to marry his once-mistress, and her sister gets an actual boyfriend, and her mother revels in her misery, it will take some drastic circumstances before Jessica realizes just what, exactly, she's become. When she finally figures out which photograph to use for her self-portrait, it's not pretty. But neither, she realizes, is real life. <BR/><BR/>This is a book that, like its title suggests, is terribly easy to relate to. Even in this day and age, it is extremely simple for females to equate desire and attraction with self-worth and love. Whether it's the way of our society or the fault of the media, young girls especially learn from an early age that being wanted by males makes you a better female. EASY shows, without ever being preachy or self-effacing, the fallacy in this way of thinking. This is a definite winner that I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. Kudos to Ms. Hoffmann for such an emotional, heartfelt story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2007

    One of the best books i've ever read

    i love this book, i finished this in one day i couldn't put it down

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2007

    Well..Outstanding!

    This is a very good book. I really liked it. Easy is a must read. There might be a few flaws but what book doesnt have any. So just read and find out for yourself!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2007

    GREAT BOOK!!!

    I loved this book! It was great! I think that for a first time writer Kerry Cohen Hoffmann, this book was amazing. I think that teens should really take a good look at this book, it will teach them something about good attension and bad attension. As they follow Jessica, through some tough things and decions. Jessica goes through some tough problems in her life and will try to get attension from men and boys, because she doesn't get any at home or school. But it ends up to be something more than just struting in her mini skirt and tight shirt. But soon she will realize that she doesn't need attension to feel needed or wanted.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2006

    College Comp 4th period.

    Easy is an emotion stirring book that puts you in the mind of a confused girl at the start of highschool. The struggle in finding her own identity and her parents divorce leads Jessica (main character) through a search for love. She becomes sexually promiscuous as a replacement for love because she doesn't know any other way to get it.I found the teen dialogue amazingly real. I believe it is something most girls going through highschool can relate too. Hoffmann's distinct writting style pulls you into the book like superglue, and you wont be able to put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2012

    Yes.

    Written amazing,. Random plot but good build up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    I wish i could say i liked it better...

    I must say i was diappointed a little. I sometimes found it hard to follow, the scenes would change suddenly without much explanation. Although i couldnt wait to see what happened in the end, i would of rather borrowed this book from the library. Maybe im to old, or maybe im just picky, either way it was just ok for me.

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  • Posted December 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty decent read

    I read this book in about four hours and although it is not the most intense book I have ever read, it was real and interesting and I couldn't put it down.

    I really enjoyed the book although I had a hard time imagining that someone would mistake a fourteen year old for an eighteen year old and that parents would let their fourteen year old go to parties in cabs.

    I would recommend this book to any girl who is thinking about messing around with older guys and trying to grow up too fast.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Amazing

    I couldn't stop reading. More for TEENAGERS over 13. Its really an amazing book that makes you think<3

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    Ew

    This book was to graphic and we kinda allknow we dont need to flaunt orselves to feel liked!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2011

    It's alright.

    this book was good but there are a lot of spelling and grammar errors. And it is really short.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    Book

    This was a very good book! Many spelling errors though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

    emotional

    i think this book teaches a lesson aabout trying to grow up too fast and chasing after the wrong people. i know what its like to hit an artistic block like jessica, but in the end i like how she pulled herself together and found who she realy is. she should enjoy her childhood to th fullest. the grammar was realy off as if this book was never edited, though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2011

    I love this book !!!!

    this book is amazing. it is definitely something to read about it always keeps on the edge of your seat. you must read it !!

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    waste of time

    I saw the angle at which the book was trying to go, but the story line and events seemed to be rushed and at times unbelievable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    read "Loose Girl" instead

    loose girl iz very similar only better because it iz a true account of kerry cohens life as a promiscuous girl....i loved itt...couldn't put it down.........this book iz similar but doesnt compare

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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