Since beginning of the You Bought It, You Read It challenge, I have been fairly well behaved when it comes to my set guidelines. I did have the yard sale slip up where I walked away with three books in my guilty hands. They were cheap, the people were moving, I was weak. Then I bought My God’s Mercy, Now That I Think About It. I met the author at her brother’s funeral and couldn’t help myself. My recent slip up, Mennonite In A Little Black Dress. In my defense, I did not buy this book. It was loaned to me by Chelsea of Books, Booze and Bitchin’. I warned her that it would be a while since I have this astronomical amount of books I have to get under my belt before adding anything else. She waved off my threats of ‘FOREVER’ and ‘A REALLY LONG TIME’ and said that would be fine.
Well, I couldn’t leave it at fine. I hate having something that belongs to someone else. It eats a hole in my soul until it falls through into the abyss and I find it years later when I’m moving. Remember my review of Modoc? Oh yeah, loaned to me back in 2006. The original owner moved across the country years before I realized I still had it. Liz, if you come across my blog … SO SORRY!
Without further ado:
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 Gay.com, 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.
This book is a snarky memoir and if you’ve read my books, you know I’m all about this type of writing. I’ve often found myself jealous of this group I’m acquainted with on Facebook. It’s lead by a novelist/blogger. She seems quite pleasant. Frequently she makes post in regards to writers of her genre. “New Adult Weekend Getaway” or “Five Day New Adult Chocolate and Champagne Retreat”. That’s fine. They can all get together and discuss the new up and coming character that will definitely be hot, freshly enrolled in college despite his lack of IQ, and that has an enormous cock.
I slap myself silly. Not about the drawing board ideas of enormous fictional penises (come on ladies, I have had the non-fiction version)… it’s because I realized that sarcastic, witty memoir writers will never be able to have a weekend together. Can you imagine, ten people coming away from a vacation and all of them writing their smart-ass version of the event? I hate the phrase, but for lack of anything better, that would be a hot mess. (I thought this phrase had sexual roots, but then I hear people using it in contexts that should not be mixed with sensual origins… what the hell does this mean?)
Sorry, so off topic.
I loved this peek into the Mennonite lifestyle. Yes, she pokes fun at her family. Yes, she pokes fun at her childhood religion. Yes, she definitely pokes fun at her ex-husband’s gay lover. There is something there to offend everyone. Yet, I wasn’t offended at all. I laughed and laughed. I wanted to take notes about foods discussed and quirky sayings and songs. I wanted to be Mennonite.
Well, that’s not true… but I have wanted Jewish friends. So if anyone out there is Jewish, hit me up.
The end was a bit open, but again this is something I understand. Life is still going. This isn’t fiction. You can’t make up a happy ending with rainbows and R.E.M. and the B-52’s dancing. She still has the rest of her life ahead of her (though at times you really wonder if she will survive all of this craziness).
I’ve gotten into this nosey habit of reading other reviews before writing my review. I would like to address some of those. Why? Because I’m feeling particularly snarky this afternoon.
Reviewer: Dear writers of memoirs: your books still need to follow a plot arc. It doesn’t matter that you are writing stuff that happened to you.
My response: Bitch, we are cray-cray. We do what the hell we want.
Reviewer: I don’t love memoirs that seem to be the author writing to see the words in print (sort of like people who talk to hear their own voices).
My response: Much like those reviewers who like to see their own reviews…. I see.
Reviewer: She makes snarky comments about almost everyone and everything.
My response: Oh, like you don’t.
I dig it and I found lots of parts to be pretty darn funny. From what I gather, if you aren’t feeling it within the first few chapters … then you probably won’t. If the giggles are rolling and you are having a blast… then keep on truckin’ with this great read.
Now, to return this baby to its owner so I can sleep at night!
Next on the You Bought It, You Read It Mission: The Tenderness Of Wolves