Book Review: "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen
The same week her husband of 15 years ditches her for a guy he met on Gay.com, a partially inebriated teenage driver smacks her VW Beetle head-on. Marriage over, body bruised, life upside-down, Rhoda does what any sensible 43-year-old would do: She goes home.
But hers is not just any home. It's a Mennonite home, the scene of her painfully uncool childhood and the bosom of her family: handsome but grouchy Dad, plain but cheerful Mom. Drinking, smoking, and slumber parties are nixed; potlucks, prune soup, and public prayer are embraced. Having long ago left the faith behind, Rhoda is surprised when the conservative community welcomes her back with open arms...and offbeat advice. She discovers that this safe, sheltered world is the perfect place to come to terms with her failed marriage and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.
I really enjoyed reading this book. As you know, I'm a fan of Amish fiction. However, even though I like the genre sometimes I feel as it it's been sugar coated for the market. That's primarily what interested me about this book, the fact that it's from a different point of view that's not from the Christian market. I liked hearing about Rhoda's background and where her roots originally came from. The stories about her parents were quite interesting to me and were actually my favorite parts of the book. I knew that Mennonites are not as strict as the Amish yet it was still a bit of a surprise to read about how modern her family was. It's obvious that the author does not want to return to that style of life yet at the same time she knows she can't forget where she came from.
I did find some of the parts about the author's marriage to be a bit boring and repetitive. I just wasn't a fan of reading about how her husband has apparently always been bi and she just now realized it. Still the rest of the book is really interesting. I loved the Mennonite primer at the end of the book. It's extremely informative and just a lot of fun to read. There is some cursing in the book and talk about sex for those who would be concerned. However they are not really an issue that takes away from the story. I would totally recommend this book for those who enjoy memoirs and especially for those who like Amish fiction but want to read a different side to the story. It's funny, entertaining and highly informative and makes for a great read.
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen is published by Henry Holt and Co. (2009)
This ARC was provided by the publisher