Saturday, May 3, 2014

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
Rhoda Janzen

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Genre: Memoir

Summary (from Goodreads): A hilarious and moving memoir—in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron—about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

Review: I picked this book up off the Staff Picks shelf at the library, and I started reading it thinking that it was fiction and thinking that it just wasn't making any sense.  When I realized it was a memoir, I began to enjoy it a lot more.  So that's a lesson to me - figure out what type of book I'm reading before I start it.

I am of two minds about this book - it was laugh out loud funny, and I couldn't put it down.  But the anecdotes jumped all over the place, and I was a little uncomfortable with the degree to which she mocked her family.  It was very well written (as well it should be, since the author has a PhD in English) but she used such a prodigious vocabulary that it seemed like she was either trying too hard to sound quirky or trying to show off.  If you are looking for a book to help you learn about the Mennonites, this is NOT it.  But if you are looking for a funny memoir, definitely give this a try.  It might be a good book for a bookclub; there's a set of discussion questions at the end.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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