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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Mennonite Valley Girl

A Wayward Coming of Age

by (author) Carla Funk

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2021
Personal Memoirs, Mennonite, Essays, Women
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
    List Price

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For readers of Miriam Toews and Cheryl Strayed, a perfect gift for mothers and daughters this holiday season.

A feisty young woman yearns for independence from her small Mennonite town, in this funny and whip-smart memoir filled with “80s nostalgia [that] will hit the spot for those who came of age amid skyscraper bangs [and] acid-washed jeans” (Publishers Weekly).

Carla Funk is a teenager with her hands on the church piano keys and her feet edging ever closer to the flames. Coming of age in a remote and forested valley—a place rich in Mennonites, loggers, and dutiful wives who submit to their husbands—she knows her destiny is to marry, have babies, and join the church ladies’ sewing circle. But she feels an increasing urge to push the limits of her religion and the small town that cannot contain her desires for much longer.

  • Teenage (Mennonite) angst at its finest: Carla questions the patriarchal norms of Mennonite society and yearns to break free. She’ll start by lighting her driveway on fire.
  • A family story: the perfect gift for mothers, daughters, sisters, and fathers and sons.
  • Pitch-perfect 1980s nostalgia: remember Jordache jeans?

At once a coming-of-age story, a contemplation on meaning, morality, and destiny, and a hilarious time capsule of 1980s adolescence, Mennonite Valley Girl offers the best kind of escapist reading for anyone who loves small towns, or who was lucky enough to grow up in one.

About the author

Carla Funk was born and raised in Vanderhoof, the geographical centre of B.C. and one of the earliest Mennonite settlements in the province. Having grown up in a world of logging trucks, storytellers, ladies' sewing circles, and rural realism, she turned to poetry as a place to set down the images of her upbringing.

Since earning degrees in Writing and English Literature at the University of Victoria, her work has been featured in anthologies including Breathing Fire: Canada's Young Poets (Harbour, 1995), in various literary journals, and as part of the Poetry in Transit series. Her books of poetry include Blessing the Bones into Light (Coteau Books, 1999), Head Full of Sun (Nightwood Editions, 2002), The Sewing Room (Turnstone Press, 2006), and most recently, Apologetic (Turnstone Press, 2010).

She lives with her husband and daughter in Victoria, where she served as the City's inaugural poet laureate from 2006-2008. She teaches in the University of Victoria's Department of Writing.

Carla Funk's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“In luminous prose that effortlessly portrays the intimate and familiar pangs of growing up, Funk captivates from the get-go, and the ’80s nostalgia will hit the spot for those who came of age amid skyscraper bangs, acid-washed jeans, and the ubiquity of teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron. These small-town stories are big on charm.”
Publishers Weekly

“This book is a gift, one that daughters will feel compelled to give their mothers, and mothers to their daughters. One that women friends will hand to each other. Here, you must read this. Because no matter what our background, we will likely find our young selves walking the pages of this nostalgic and moving memoir.”
Gail Anderson-Dargatz, author of The Cure for Death by LightningA Recipe for Bees, and The Almost Wife

“Utterly authentic. Carla Funk's Vanderhoof recalled my own Mennonite childhood with such clarity that I could taste the Roll Kuchen, feel the polyester, and experience the pinch of growing up in a container that simply did not fit.”
Darcie Friesen Hossack, Commonwealth Writers Prize-shortlisted author of Mennonites Don't Dance

“With the fierce, bright heart of a poet, Funk perfectly captures the thrills, pleasures, and disappointments of being a teenage girl keening for life, for far more than her rural hometown can offer her. I’ve never experienced a coming-of-age-memoir that hurled me off my feet and back into the past with such fluidity. Mennonite Valley Girl transported me into a time of first jobs, first crushes, first makeovers, and first doubts in a way that was so visceral, so surprising. This book is completely alive, and with it Funk has created nothing short of magic.”
Ailsa Ross, author of The Girl Who Rode a Shark

Other titles by Carla Funk