Leah Vincent was born into the Yeshivish community, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that shuns the modern world. When, at sixteen, Leah is caught exchanging letters with a boy—breaking a religious ban on contact between the sexes—her family soon cuts all ties.
Sent to live on her own in New York City, adrift and unprepared for the freedoms of secular life, Leah falls into a vicious cycle of promiscuity, self-harm, and abusive relationships. But a harrowing moment of despair moves her to transform her tragic life into a story of unexpected triumph, as she discovers her inner strength, puts herself through college and earns a master’s degree at Harvard University.
Through Leah’s eyes, we gain a rare look into the hidden life of a young woman emerging from an extreme fundamentalist sect, as well as a frank exploration of universal issues of female sexuality and identity.
In 2019, Leah came out as genderqueer and changed their name to Jericho. Moving forward, they prefer they/them pronouns.
“[W]renching. . . . Her book should be read, not just as a warning of the very real dangers of the world, but also of the price to be paid when, in the name of religion, people forget humanity.” —The Wall Street Journal
“This is a sometimes-sweet, sometimes-harrowing memoir by a smart, passionate ultra-Orthodox girl whose choice is stark. . . . Cut Me Loose is not a pretty picture of this fundamentalist sect of Judaism; the most observant will probably find it objectionable. But it’s engrossing and so thoughtfully written, and never mocks the traditions and values of a culture that few of us can fully comprehend.” —People.com
“[A] visceral and uplifting story about conquering the unique injustices forced on women in not one, but two, different worlds.” —The Daily Beast
“Painfully raw.” —Susannah Cahalan, New York Post
“Gripping. . . . Readers will appreciate Vincent’s uncensored honesty in sharing the horrors of her past.” —The Washington Post
“Of all the ex-Orthodox memoirists thus far, it is Vincent who best portrays the lingering doubt that lies at the heart of the OTD experience. . . . [S]erious and sincere.” —The Forward
“[A]s thoughtful and heroic as it is gripping and tragic … riveting and relatable. . . . [Vincent] familiarizes, rather than exoticizes, the life she’s led. As a result, it’s the finest example of this sort of memoir yet.” —Flavorwire
“Never before has rebellion been so sweetly rendered. And never—not since the memoirs of Mary Karr—has the connection between self-destruction and family dysfunction been so tangible and clear. Leah Vincent may have been cast out by her ultra-Orthodox family, but in Cut Me Loose, she finds a generation of readers proud to claim her as a sister. To know Vincent is to love her, to ache with her, to kick up your feet and let down your hair with her. This is the kind of extraordinary book you’ll finish in a day, and think about for months and years after.” —Koren Zailckas, bestselling author of Smashed and Mother, Mother
“Cut Me Loose brims with a girl’s longing, and shines with a woman’s insight. This book so courageously describes the forbidden: the great bind of being caught between desire and tradition. Vincent’s voice is as lyrical as it brave, as hopeful as it is honest. Leah Vincent magically depicts the labyrinth of what it means to be vulnerable, sexual and female.” —Christa Parravani, author of Her
“Gutsy, smart, and incredibly difficult to put down, Cut Me Loose chronicles Leah Vincent’s perilous and poignant search for identity. As she grapples with profound loneliness and her dreams for the future, she ultimately arrives at a place filled with hope.” —Wendy Lawless, author of Chanel Bonfire
“Leah Vincent’s memoir is a fascinating view into Yeshivish life that feels as familiar to the reader as her own life because, Orthodox or not, we all grew up wrestling against our forbidden desires, mundane and normal as they were. Vincent’s story is full of despair, of longing, of trying to find a place for herself amid a world that doesn’t allow girls to be their whole yearning selves. The reader cheers for her when she finally escapes the prisons built by the various institutions she grew up with.” —Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl
“Leah Vincent’s family abandoned her in the name of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. In her poignant memoir, she explores the imposed ignorance of her fundamentalist upbringing, the open wounds of her abandonment, her desperate, at times self-destructive, yearning for connection, and the self-discoveries that gave her the courage to shape her life and find her voice. The voice Vincent has claimed is unflinchingly honest and incisive. It has already begun to resound on behalf of others who struggle to escape abuse and oppression.” —Anouk Markovits, author of I Am Forbidden
“Vincent’s writing brims with tension, insight, and longing. This quickly paced book is not about sex, though sex is a part of the narrative. It’s ultimately a meditation on love and its myriad cruelties, as well as its eventual beauty and transcendence.” —Margaux Fragoso, author of Tiger, Tiger
“Leah Vincent shares a harrowing journey that will speak to all children fleeing intolerance, who struggle to be seen and accepted on their own terms.” —Julie Metz, bestselling author of Perfection
“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.” —Bookpage
“The book is not just for people cast out of fundamentalist sects. It will resonate with all the proverbial black sheep who feel pressure to align with others’ expectations instead of embracing who they are at heart.” —The Roanoke Times