I read "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance" for two reasons: 1) when going through the Penguin Fall 2009 catalog, it intrigued me when I found out the local Mormon bookstores weren't ordering copies, and 2) I was given an advanced reading copy.
I'm normally opposed to reading "memoirs" by people who haven't passed the age of 30 (have you really done enough to make me want to read about your life?), but because of the description in the catalog and on the book cover, it sounded intriguing- so I dove in, finishing the book in just a couple of days.
Elna Baker is a young LDS (Mormon) woman living in New York who has an internal war taking place between head and heart. Being Mormon means no drinking alcohol or engaging in pre-marital sex, among other things, and this seems to conflict with most of the non-Mormon men she attempts to date. As Elna relates, her longest relationship lasted a month and that was because the guy was out of town for two weeks. Her search for love and acceptance leads her to fall for the most unlikely of men- an atheist. A man who seems to be the exact opposite of a practicing Mormon, yet one who seems to be everything she wants in a potential husband. Can she make it work?
"The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance" is a funny story of how a young Mormon woman navigates dating, love and other disasters. While an engaging read, some parts of the book slow down, due not to story, but to the occasional awkwardness of Baker's writing style. When dealing with Mormon issues and doctrines that play a role in her story, Baker does a satisfactory job of explaining her religion to non-Mormons, but a few statements on Mormonism aren't explained well, and would only be fully understood by a member of the LDS faith. Conversely, there will be many practicing members of the LDS faith that will be offended by some of the language Baker uses as well as some of her feelings about, descriptions of, and encounters with sexual situations.
A book that made me laugh out loud and question my own beliefs and doubts about God and religion, "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance" will find a niche, both inside and outside Mormonism, among those who enjoy a quest for self and a good laugh along the way.
"The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance" is available to order from our online affiliate Powell's, or by coming into the Bookmark at the U.