Nightwatch/Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

That an adult convert to a religious community of plain people would look more generously on the group than someone who grew up in one and then left it is not surprising. Robert Rhodes, author of Nightwatch, a memoir about the six years he and his family spent in a Hutterite colony, treats his former community with a respect and restraint that is absent from the prose of Rhoda Janzen in Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, a memoir about leaving her Mennonite Brethren home and then returning to it years later. Unlike Rhodes, Janzen has all of the clunky memories of otherness—of wearing homemade clothing, being forbidden to dance, taking borscht to school for lunch when other kids brought Twinkies—but none of the agency of having chosen such difference for herself.


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