Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?

Rhoda Janzen, Author
Rhoda Janzen. Grand Central, $24.99 (245p) ISBN 978-1-4555-0288-2
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Open Ebook - 133 pages - 978-1-4555-1757-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61969-762-1
Hardcover - 373 pages - 978-1-4555-2260-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-61113-869-6
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Author of the improbable bestseller Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Janzen continues her quirky tales of finding faith in unlikely places in this dotty, squeaky-clean postdivorce sequel in which she describes life with a new boyfriend and the courage to battle breast cancer. Having fallen out of her conservative Mennonite community in California—“abgefallen” is how she is referred by her church folk—now an English professor in Holland, Mich., Janzen meets and falls for a Pentecostal born-again “Jesus-nail-necklace-wearing manly man” shortly before she is diagnosed with massive, inoperable breast cancer. With Mitch standing firmly by her, along with her resilient mom and sister, Janzen was determined to face her condition with optimism, and in startlingly breezy prose, considering the gravity of her condition, pokes fun at her professorial distractedness in contrast to Mitch’s literal groundedness. She plunges into activities at his Pentecostal church, as wildly improvisational and “kooky” as her Mennonite church had been sober and dignified, with enthusiasm, embracing their particular rituals of healing and even tithing. However, underneath her limpid facetiousness (one inspired simile compares Mitch’s gloomy aged father’s boredom to “a stretch of wet cement that he protected with cones and tape”) run serious concerns about her faith, spiritual growth, and the meaning of prayer and humility. “I had unfinished business with God,” Janzen writes, sharing in this vibrant, charming narrative her own “fruits of the spirit.” (Oct.)
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