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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress - Rhoda Janzen Writing a memoir is walking a fine line. It’s not a biography, so I don’t want to read someone’s entire life story. It’s suppose to be a collection of experiences with a unifying thread. And even though things don’t have to move in logical order, like they might in a novel, that unifying thread and theme is at the heart of every good memoir. Otherwise, what you end up with is tales that are better suited to a blog than a book, and I think that happened here.Overall, This book was enjoyable. The writing is well-done, as Janzen is an English professor herself. She can be sly and funny and at times, laugh-out-loud witty. Many of her stories are self-deprecating in the best possible ways, and even when she’s lightly poking fun at her Mennonite background, she gives credit where it’s due. I also love that Janzen is audience-aware enough to realize that we might need a crash course is Mennonite history, and provides us an entertaining one. She’s self-aware also, and admits some of her mistakes in print when talking about her marriage, which cannot be an easy thing to do.However, what keeps this from being anything more than an entertaining read for me is the lack of cohesiveness. The first sixty pages and the last thirty pages of this book are the superb. There’s a common theme, and Janzen is at both her most honest and her funniest. Unfortunately, the middle loses ground and seems quite aimless at times. There are several anecdotes in the middle of the book that don’t add to my understanding of Janzen, her family, her marriage, or her Mennonite background. At times, everything seems irrelevant to the story I believe she’s trying to tell, which is what keeps this from being a stand-out memoir for me.Final Impression: This is a quick, funny, and entertaining read that seems a bit loss at time. I enjoyed it, but I would have hated paying full price for it. 3/5 stars.Review first posted on my blog at Book.Blog.Bake.