Ciara's Reviews > Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
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's review
Mar 28, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: autobio-memoir, read-in-2011

this book seems to be getting reviews across the spectrum. kind of weird, because i thought it was a great! it's the memoir of a woman who spent fifteen years in an abusive relationship with an unmedicated bipolar man, until he finally left her for a guy he secretly met on the same week, a drunk teenager loses control of his car & smashes into janzen's car on the highway, leaving her with a shit ton of traumatic injuries. she decides to go back to the small mennonite community where she grew up for her convalescence. she left the fold years earlier, choosing instead to pursue advanced degrees in the humanities & become a professor. but she seems to get along well with her family (with the exception of her older brother, who remained a mennonite, & a conservative patriarch) & she has great affection for the community in which she was raised.

the book is kind of scattershot. it doesn't really follow a clear narrative path. she zips around a lot between reminiscing about the embarrassing lunches her mother used to pack for her as a child to the details about her husband's abuse to the moment she started questioning her faith as a young teenager to a blind date with a 27-year-old mennonite man (janzen was 44 when she wrote the book). but it's all pretty entertaining & funny, so i didn't mind at all. plus, she's a great, extremely literate writer. i have a friend named cait who writes a great, hilarious blog about running ( janzen's voice reminded me a lot of cait's, which is a big compliment, because i think cait is a writerly genius. i recommend this book!
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