New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

Published By: Dutton Adult

Book Category: Non-Fiction,

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Review by Sara Porter

Elna Barker is similar to the characters in Candace Bushnell’s and Jennifer Weiner’s novels, a single woman looking for love and her own identity in New York. What makes Baker stand out from the others is that she is Mormon and her memoirs discuss the difficulties of not only being a single woman, but being a single Mormon woman in New York City.

Baker has a clear witty style to her writing that sees humor in many things. She writes of the title dance as a place where “Manhattan Mormons meet, marry and make more Mormons (take that, Sally and your seashells by the seashore).” She goes to these events that serve punch and cookies, hold embarrassing mingle sessions, and features people dressed in ridiculous costumes dancing to “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “The Electric Slide.” Though Baker vows that she will never go, she always does to meet the man of her dreams and hopefully marry him.

Baker’s romantic journey is a study in various men and misconceptions caused by her and the men. They range from her first kiss from a neighbor boy to a necking session in a swank nightclub with “Warren Beatty” (a famous actor that she won’t name, but gives Beatty’s name as a pseudonym). By far, the strongest relationship is with Matt, a bright intelligent atheist who she believes would be her soul mate except, as Baker writes, “he doesn’t believe in souls.” Her chapters with Matt are lovely, but ultimately upsetting as neither can really come to terms with their differences.

There are other stories that are interesting, such as Baker’s trips with her family where she is considered “the funny one” and is in constant rivalry with her older sister who is considered “the pretty one.” There are also Baker’s jobs as a toy tester at FAO Schwartz and as a page at David Letterman which consists of her doing things that say “You and your family want to be left alone, but I’m an actor and I need attention.”

Above all, the book is about Baker’s struggles with her Mormon faith. She discredits a lot of misconceptions such as all Mormons live in Utah (she never did, but her parents went to school at BYU) and that they say no to everything-sex, caffeine, drugs (“There is a lot that (she) will say ‘yes’ too). But Baker herself has her own misconceptions, when her faith is tested particularly during offers of sex. Her beliefs are wittily described in charts on what she believed and what she used to believe such as “I believe in the power of uncertainty-or do I?” and “A chart can explain my complicated relationship with my faith.”

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