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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress A Memoir of Going Home
Author: Rhoda Janzen
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 Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her 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 quir...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780805092257
ISBN-10: 0805092250
Publication Date: 5/25/2010
Pages: 272
Rating:
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 343

3.2 stars, based on 343 ratings
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 23
I had a hard time deciding how many stars to give this book, because on one hand, it started out on a great note. It was so hilarious I was laughing out loud! About halfway through, however, the theme of the book takes a turn from funny to offensive (for me.) The author spends most of the latter half of the book talking about how religious people are all brainwashed sheep and how offensive they are to her, all except her family, I suppose. If she had kept going like she started the book, I would have given it 5 stars. But being a brainwashed sheep myself, I wouldn't have bought the book if I had known what was in store.
reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
Rhoda Janzen, raised as a Mennonite, left the culture in her adulthood and lived among the regular folks. She had a pretty normal and happy life until a set of health mishaps--and her husband leaving her for a man he met on Gay.com.

The book is about her reconnecting to her family and recovering pieces of herself that she allowed to be swallowed up by an unhappy marriage. Weirdly, she does not really admit to the true character of her husband until pages and pages into the book. Then you discover that the whole dissolving of her marriage should not have come as any surprise at all.

For me, I never really connected with Rhoda or with her family and friends. There was just something missing. I'm not sure that I can put my finger on what it was, but I think it was just a lack of depth in the telling of who they were. I enjoyed reading about her mother and her sister and brother-in-law, but some of the other people were just not interesting.

I found the middle of the book to be entertaining, but my interest was not sustained through the end. I did learn about Mennonite culture (no, they are not the same as the Amish!). And if I never hear the phrase "Bob from Gay.com", I will be most delighted.
reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 347 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
Maybe I'm just sated with the memoir thing? Or, maybe this one really just doesn't quite live up to the hype? I'll split the difference and go with "both".
Janzen is a good writer, and she can be funny, and moving. However, I found the timing "off" in her delivery. We get it that he left you "for a guy from gay-dot-com named 'Bob'." We got it the very first time even! If we hadn't gotten it the next dozen or so times that it came up in the book, the phrase might've been cute; we did though, and it wasn't. Moreover, Bob is a helluva lot more of a mainstream name than Rhoda, IMHO. For those who think this may have come as a real shock, the author mentions, in passing late in the book, that she knew her husband was bisexual when they married. She mentions repeatedly that her father is "very good looking" and later writes off dating Mennonite men because "they aren't good looking"; I'm not sure I really want to explore that further, but there it was.
Unlike Feroozeh Dumas' memoirs of being Iranian-American, I wasn't so sure that Janzen wasn't inviting the readership to laugh at Mennonite culture, rather than "with" it? The humor in the book seemed forced at times to me - like a vaudevillian terrified of losing his audience, which lessened the impact of the serious stuff she brought up about 3/4 of the way through the book. Introduced earlier, it would've made more of (the intended) impact.
reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
I did not care for this book and stopped reading it after a few chapters (something I RARELY do). I have Mennonite relatives and thought it would be neat to read a book to get a better feel for their way of life. Well, after just the first few chapters, the Mennonites in this book are NOTHING like my relatives who are much more conservative. I may have continued to read the book despite that if it had been a good story, but I found the writing annoying - the character would tell one little story and jump to another mini story and back and it drove me nuts. I feel that I wasted the $10 I paid to get this on my Kindle. :(
reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 721 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I had low expectations for this book so I was surprised to find that I chuckled my way through it, enjoying both the laughs and the perception that the author displayed in this memoir. It might not hit the right note with every reader, but it did with this one. Quick, enjoyable read!
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reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 259 more book reviews
This book didn't hold my interest throughout though there were amusing incidents and turns of phrase. I guess most telling is that it didn't make me want to explore poetry or more books by the same author. Rhoda has a marriage where her husband leaves her to be with another male, a surgical complication, and a car accident so she comes home to her Mennonite mom and dad. What, at first, appears to be a snooty, surface-sophisticated wonderment at Mennonite beliefs and ways, eventually resolves itself and this reader felt she was trying to make small incidents appear large and important in terms of religion and spiritual development. She doesn't spare any peculiarities within her family. By the end of the book I was hoping she'd soon get on her feet and leave these nice people alone. Perhaps her family did too?
reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 5 more book reviews
A witty, enjoyable read.
reviewed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home on + 46 more book reviews
This is a guick entertaining read. Nonfiction. Good diction. I should have looked up some words, but couldn't put down to get out the dictionary. Her background gives reasons to her odd adulthood. The family is very fun. Rhoda has a great sense of humor. Learning about the Mennonite history and people is interesting too.

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