Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review -- The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For anyone who has experienced an LDS (Latter-day Saint) church dance, they are on the spectrum of the cheesiest thing you have ever participated in to the most magical experience of your life (however, I’ve only experienced the former and I really don’t think the latter exists). Elna Baker uses the reality of church dances as the framework for her memoir, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. This infamous dance is now probably the single most popular activity in all the church!

As an LDS member who has chosen NYU over BYU, Elna tries to balance two worlds: One of devout Latter-day Saint member, the other of artistic, educated, attractive young woman. Throughout the memoir we are given intimate access to Elna’s struggles: her struggles with weight, her struggles with faith, her struggles with morality and her struggles with employment. Along the ride we meet her atheist boyfriend and love of her life, “Matt,” her member boyfriend and almost fiancĂ©, “Hayes,” and “Warren Beatty” with whom she almost has a one night stand.

Elna is an extremely talented writer. Her personal vignettes are tragic and hysterical all at the same time. She is an unexpected missionary – discussing sometimes difficult church doctrine with ease and straightforwardness and recognizes the “elephant in the room” when talking about doctrine that may seem weird to others. She is truly brave by allowing so many millions to read about her moral trespasses. I probably shouldn’t air my dirty laundry in a book review – but at times, this was a very painful book to read – I had similar experiences as a single adult (and sometimes inactive) member of the church. It was often a difficult journey. I wish I could recreate my single years in such a humorous and redemptive fashion!

A warning for the reader: Elna is very descriptive when relating her “flings.” She doesn’t mince words and doesn’t sugar coat her internal battles. Nor does she shy away from language that some might find inappropriate – especially for a member of the church. I, however, appreciated her candor and felt she was being true to herself. Others may not feel the same way.

Thank you Elna for sharing your life, knowledge, maturation, humor, and discoveries with us. And thank you for giving me back my reading mojo!

Book source: Private purchase

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Just Mom said...

I loved this book! I read it too quickly though so have it bookmarked to reread at a more leisurely pace.

I think we all have chapters of our life that are not our proudest moments - but you're right - she showed a lot of guts to put it out there for all of us to share!

Tracy M said...

Nice review, M. I agree, on all counts.

Kim said...

I can't wait to read this one. I've seen a couple of the youtube videos with Elna Baker and she is hilarious. From your review and what I've heard elsewhere, I'm sure this book is definitely not for a lot of LDS people I know but I'm pretty sure I'll appreciate her candor like you did.