At the end of her bestselling memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen had reconnected with her family roots, though her future felt uncertain. When this overeducated professor starts dating the most unlikely of men—a weight-liftin’, church-goin’, truck-drivin’ rocker named Mitch—she begins a surprising journey to faith and love.
Nothing says, “Let’s get to know each other!” like lady problems on an epic scale, but Mitch vows to stay by her side. Convinced that his bedrock character has something to do with his Pentecostal church, Rhoda suits up for a brave new world of sparkler pom-poms and hand-clappin’ hallelujahs.
Written with her trademark “uproarious, bawdy sense of humor” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune), MENNONITE MEETS MR. RIGHT is witty and moving, perfect for anyone who has taken an unexpected detour only to find that new roads lead to rich destinations.
Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly: June 24, 2013: Mennonite Meets Mr. Right: A Memoir of Faith, Hope and Love
“A hilarious account of the small details that make a life. . . Readers from all backgrounds will be inspired by Janzen’s tale of love and faith told with her trademark wit and honesty.”–Booklist
“Remarkably funny . . . A crowd-pleaser.”—Miami Herald
“Paul Shaffer, the noted theologian/TV sidekick, once said that if God is the ultimate being, he must have the ultimate sense of humor. To which I add, Rhoda Janzen is not far behind. This is one funny book. Not to mention thought-provoking and touching.”—AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“Breezy despite the weighty subject matter… Janzen’s wit and love of fashion keep things light, but her conversion to Pentecostalism after a miraculous return to health sends the book into serious seekers’ territory.”—People (Three Stars)
“Hilarious.… Janzen is the kind of writer—world-weary yet incredulous; girlfriend-esque and conversational—that draws you along through a story with ease. This book is an easy read for a fall weekend. You’ll be rooting for the author the whole way. The book would fit naturally on a shelf, say, next to your collection of beat-up Anne Lamott paperbacks. It has that same sort of accessibility to it; that same sort of acceptance…. It’s terrific to see all these memorable characters [from Mennonite in a Little Black Dress], a bit farther down the road. And it’s great that Janzen, for all her life has changed, can still make them as humorous as ever. And not only them: herself.”—The Buffalo News
“Rhoda Janzen is one of the few people I trust to write about faith without using God to clobber me. She writes about the most serious things in the world—life, death, family, love—with such spot-on honesty, spiritual humility, and disarming humor that I would follow her anywhere. The nicest thing I can say about her new book is that it made me want to be a better person. It is that good.”—Barbara Brown Taylor, author of An Altar in the World and Leaving Church
“Given the gravity of the subjects—cancer and religious conversion—Janzen gave herself an enormous challenge. Could she maintain her hallmark comic voice in the midst of suffering and transformation? The answer is yes, and that is no small accomplishment… What makes a memoir great is the honesty to claim what has been right in front of oneself all along. Only when we are ready for truth to sink in can it become our own. The excitement of discovery is palpable in this book.”—Christian Century
“[Janzen has] an uproarious, bawdy sense of humor, great comedic timing and what in her hands seems to be a wacky life.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A delight for fans of [Janzen’s] warm, wisecracking style…. Honest and remarkably funny…. Janzen writes of her newfound faith like a travel writer discovering an exotic new pocket of the world, and her enthusiasm and spirit and knack for finding humor in the God details make this book a crowd-pleaser.”— The Miami Herald
“A very funny writer. . . . A heartfelt memoir that is both hilarious and inspiring.”—Great Day Houston
“[A] vibrant, charming narrative.”—Publishers Weekly
“Mennonite Meets Mr. Right made me laugh out loud, often enough to make my beloved children inquire as to whether I was losing my mind. Too much spiritual writing these days claims that religious practice is about healing or developing the self. But Rhoda Janzen avoids this theme: here she sets out on a path to become more loving, grateful, and helpful to others. This is particularly impressive given that she’s writing about a period in her life when she’s got a scary, life-threatening illness, and a brand-new family. Bravo, Rhoda—or rather, ‘Thank God!’”—Kate Braestrup, author of Here if You Need Me and Beginner’s Grace
What inspired you to write a second memoir?
After I wrote Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, I was inundated with reader requests to keep writing. People overwhelmingly welcomed the idea of reframing difficult life experiences with humor and gratitude. And my life has changed so extraordinarily since then! I had much more to share.
Glad to see your family is still such a strong part of your life, even when you’re not living with your parents! How has your family grown with this new marriage? Were you surprised by your new role as daughter-in-law and stepparent?
Oh, my family continues to crack me up. Who wouldn’t love cheapo senior parents who agree to housesit for a stranger on Craigslist in order to get a free coastal vacation? I asked my mom how it was and, always upbeat, she said, “Well, there was a friendly cat!”
The new family is fabulous. My eighty-one-year-old father-in-law treats his lady friends to Sunday dinner in the local hospital cafeteria because they have a nice pot roast for $6.99. And nothing keeps you flexible like a son who plays the ukulele and a daughter with inexplicable ink. One of her tattoos features a realistic wolf en profile in the middle of a Spirograph design. Do I get it? No! Can I get behind it? All the way!
Do you believe your Mennonite upbringing instilled your sense of faith? What have you learned from the new Pentecostal community?
Ah, who can know what forces collude to pull us toward the divine? I do know that over the years my parents prayed for me, and I have come to believe in the power of prayer.
My new community has taught me many practical things. One of the best is the role of joyful praise. Outside, looking in, an observer might go, “Why are those folks so happy all the time?” But Pentecostal praise doesn’t come from the emotions. It’s a decision, an act of will, and as such it dramatically changes your notion of what it means to bless and be blessed.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard shouted in church?
First let me say that in my church of origin I never heard a peep, not a single “Amen!” Congregants sat in respectful silence, or, in my case, doodled in the bulletin. So I was delighted to find that Pentecostals will shout out anything at all, in noisy solidarity and goodwill.
Once my pastor was talking about “cultural overchoice.” To make his point, he brought in a box of breakfast cereal. He said, “I stood there in the cereal aisle, surrounded by option after option: Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Wheaties—”
“I LIKE ME SOME WHEATIES!!!” shouted Sister Fannie.
I clapped hard for Fannie. Pentecostals also feel free to applaud, see.
Are there any other memoirs about faith you’d like to recommend?
Sure. I read two provocative faith memoirs this year, Mark Richard’s House of Prayer No. 2 and Donna Johnson’s Holy Ghost Girl. Speaking as one who will happily curl up in a hammock with the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, I think spiritual themes are pretty dang compelling. But Richard and Johnson actually have the edge on Ignatius. They really know how to move the story along.