Showalter, Shirley Hershey. Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. Harrisonburg: Herald, 2013.
Showalter was the president of my alma mater, Goshen College, when I was a student there, and we have since become friends, in part because we are both interested in Mennonite literature. Her new memoir, Blush, is sure to be an important addition to this field. It is the story of Showalter’s Mennonite girlhood in the 1950s and 1960s. This was a fascinating time in the Mennonite community because the world made it increasingly more difficult for Mennonites to remain sectarian because of temptations such as higher education and various mass movements for justice (especially the Civil Rights movement).
Although Blush is published by Herald Press, the official publisher of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, the book anticipates a more-than-Mennonite audience via its glossary (if you don’t know what “the world” that I mentioned in the previous paragraph is, Blush‘s glossary will tell you!), which is wise considering the current memoir craze. Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, a bestseller in 2009, has already carved out a Mennonite niche in this craze (here is Showalter’s notorious review of Janzen’s book); it will be interesting to see whether non-Mennonites remain interested enough to buy Showalter’s book. Bill Moyers blurbed it, which is impressive, and should certainly help the book get some play in bookstores. I look forward to reading it!