The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance – Elna Baker – 8/10

“I wanted to invent a word that described that place, the state between unlimited possibility and reality. But I couldn’t think of one, and the Germans probably already invented one anyway, Weltinnerschnitzelrealititz.

This breezy memoir is Elna Baker’s tale of life in Manhattan, aged 18-27, and the daily difficulties of reconciling The City that Never Sleeps with her Mormon faith.

This is not my usual fare – while I’ve read a few of these breezy memoirs by young women before (particularly Sleeping Naked is Green), I know pretty much nothing about Mormonism and to be honest, am not avidly interested in filling the holes in my knowledge that relate to primarily American-based Christian denominations as I don’t meet all that many people who follow them. But The Captive Reader made it sound like a good read, and on the Bookmooch wishlist it went (yes, I really am that suggestible. Do not use abuse this power).

What a refreshing look at the world! I’ve ranted in the past about so-called Christian fiction, but this was a girl’s frank admission of “I have a strong faith, I also live in the real world. Sometimes those two really don’t go together” and her struggles to stay within the remit of her faith – which, a lot of the time, meant staying true to her principles and herself, rather than just obeying a laundry list of rules – while enjoying life as a single girl in Manhattan.

Baker is not afraid to take her friends and family (mostly family) as fodder, as well as a string of ex-boyfriends/almost boyfriends/random acquaintances, and does not disappoint with her comedic talent. She has a real knack for dropping one-liner chuckles into her prose:

“On one wall there was a painting of Jesus. While Catholics usually paint the Saviour suffering, Mormon artists tend to depict Him as a rugged Idaho mountain man – the kid of Jesus you wouldn’t mind dating. In this particular picture he was healing a blonde child, because blondes were big in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.”

“How else could we Manhattan Mormons meet, marry, then make more Mormons? (Take that, Sally and your seashells on the seashore)”

She does address the issues (mostly, that it’s hard to get to know someone if you’re honest about the no-go area of pre-marital sex) pretty candidly, and a fair portion of the memoir could be written by a twenty-something of any faith – apparently, flying around the world to hopefully kindle/re-kindle a relationship is something one does in ones twenties (it featured in Sleeping Naked), and misadventures are always funny. I was also pleased that there isn’t a neat ending, she struggles with her faith, contemplates giving up multiple times, is honest enough to walk away from a relationship that’s unhappy, and so on.

On the whole I found this pretty light and fluffy, much as you would expect from the cover, and while there are plenty of points for discussion – plastic surgery? really? – I don’t think this is a book that will stay with me for a very long time. On the other hand, it was a fun read and well outside my usual reading menu.

Additional info:

I received this book through Bookmooch.
Publisher: Plume (a Penguin imprint), 276 pages (paperback)
Order this from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.

4 thoughts on “The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance – Elna Baker – 8/10”

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