Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
A Memoir of Going Home

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Rhoda Janzen

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Rhoda Janzen is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and the poetry collection Babel's Stair. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA and teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
 
Published April 1, 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Kirkus Reviews

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After hesitantly re-entering the dating world, the author faced the revelation that she is woefully codependent by creating her own 12-step program, with directives such as “Step Two: Sit Down at the Computer with Wild Medusa Hair” and “Step Ten: Branch Out from Borscht.” Within the humor, Janzen...

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The New York Times

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Almost everyone who has read “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” seems surprised by how good it is.

Dec 03 2009 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

The New York Times

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A wonderfully intelligent and frank memoir about the Mennonite upbringing Rhoda Janzen returned to after an emotional and physical crisis.

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The Guardian

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Rhoda Janzen was 43 and had been married for 15 years when, after recovering from a serious illness – during which her usually grouchy husband Nick was suddenly uncharacteristically supportive – she discovered that Nick was leaving her "for a guy named Bob he met on gay.com".

Jan 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

BC Books

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Her trip home reacquaints her with her Mennonite upbringing (Janzen provides a helpful and humorous Mennonite primer at the end of the book).

Jan 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

BC Books

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In Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen has all the elements of woe necessary for some serious whining.

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Examiner

After breaking both her legs in a car accident, Rhoda Janzen has no one to turn to except her super conservative Mennonite parents.

Aug 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

The Telegraph

She knows the Mennonites from the inside – her father was head of the North American Mennonite Conference – 'the Mennonite equivalent of the Pope, but in plaid shorts and black dress socks pulled up snugly along the calf’.

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The Bookbag

Summary: A very personal warts-and-all memoir from the American writer Rhoda Janzen.

Dec 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

Pajiba

As the story progresses and Janzen reveals more about her family, faith, and the objections that prompted her to renounce her religion, it becomes apparent that this project was just as much about reconciling her life’s choices with her upbringing as it was about her emotional and physical health.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Struggling to come to terms with seeing her husband's private parts on Gay.com - where he met Bob - and nursing many broken bones, she sees no option but to go back home.

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Chicago Tribune

I worry that it might be impossible to share with anyone who doesn’t have a background similar to Rhoda Janzen’s the wicked pleasure that comes from a glance at her title: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.

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The New Zealand Herald

Opinion New treatments must prove their value The news the Govt is looking to reduce access to certain elective surgical procedures is likely to raise the blood pressure of many across the country, writes Dr Justin… Chris Rattue: Reinstate Taylor as skipper Chris Rattue writes: "You...

Jan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

Story Circle Book Reviews

She is the author of Babel's Stair, a collection of poems, and her poems have also appeared in Poetry, The Yale Review, The Gettysburg Review, and The Southern Review.

Apr 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

Englewood Review of Books

Indeed, Janzen’s work may come across to some as coarse — for instance, launching into the book with a comical take on polio, shriveled arms and breasts — but it has a sort of ring of truth to it: crappy things happen in life and we struggle to come to grips with these realities, whether by force...

May 14 2010 | Read Full Review of Mennonite in a Little Black D...

Reader Rating for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
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