cover image Mennonite Valley Girl: A Wayward Coming of Age

Mennonite Valley Girl: A Wayward Coming of Age

Carla Funk. Greystone, $26.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-771-64515-7

Poet and essayist Funk (Every Little Scrap and Wonder) mines her 1980s Mennonite upbringing in rural British Columbia in her tender and funny latest work. This series of delightfully frank essays touches on everything from believing dancing was a sin (“unless you were a ‘Holy Roller,’ also known as ‘filled with the Holy Ghost’ ”) to questionable fashion choices that left her body “hidden... left to speculation and guesswork.” She also confesses her long-held suspicion that she’s adopted (when she prods her mother about pregnancy photos, she gets a vague “I guess I was the one behind the camera” in response); recalls the humiliation of hitting puberty (“how did breasts grow anyways”); and, in one particularly heartbreaking essay, confronts the shame she felt around her father’s drinking. In luminous prose that effortlessly portrays the intimate and familiar pangs of growing up, Funk captivates from the get-go, and the ’80s nostalgia will hit the spot for those who came of age amid skyscraper bangs, acid-washed jeans, and the ubiquity of teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron. These small-town stories are big on charm. (Sept.)