Monday, November 15, 2010

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress - Rhoda Janzen

Summary:  Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down.  It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her seriously injured.  Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country, and returned to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice.  (Rhoda's good-natured mother suggested she get over her heartbreak by dating her first cousin--he owned a tractor, see.)

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.  (Summary from back of the book, book free for review, and image from

My Review:  I'm sorry to say I was disappointed by this book. I wanted it to be funny. The title and the cover were very eye catching. The story wasn't that engaging, nor was the humor. I did feel empathy for her, her chain of events that led to her sad return to her hometown. That didn't change the fact that I felt she attacked her own family heartlessly and the very people who raised her. I realize she rejected her upbringing, but to so blatantly bash them in such a public way seemed cruel. 

There were other aspects to the book that I didn't enjoy, specifically the blindness to her husband's verbal abuse and cruelty, her stuck-up attitude about her education and how it implied that people who are religious couldn't be educated as well because the two don't coincide (in her eyes), and those are just to name a few. Her organization was all over the place too. You'd be following her story and then a random anecdote would be thrown in...because the author wanted to share some funny-to-her story? I'm not totally sure the purpose of some of her side tangents. The last few chapters seemed to be redeeming, but then the very last chapter dashed that effort. It was a doozey. I couldn't get past the fact that her mother so openly welcomed her daughter home again (and had done so many times over) only to be openly mocked and ridiculed in a nationally ranked and read book. I can't say I'd recommend the book to my friends, but I also wouldn't discourage it. 

Rating: 2 Stars  For the sensitive reader: there are a couple sections with some serious swearing and a definite swear word that most would find highly offensive.

Sum it up: Critical and crass, this book left me disappointed and not enlightened about Mennonite life.


MindySue said...

I didn't get very far in this book before I realized that it wasn't at all the way the summary portrayed. It definitely felt more disrespectful and crass than funny and insightful. I won't be finishing it.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Thanks for saving me the time!


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