A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana

by Haven Kimmel


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The New York Times bestselling memoir about growing up in small-town Indiana, from the author of The Solace of Leaving Early.

When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the house, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period–people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.

Laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, dead-on observations, and moments of sheer joy, Haven Kimmel's straight-shooting portrait of her childhood gives us a heroine who is wonderfully sweet and sly as she navigates the quirky adult world that surrounds Zippy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767915052
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 09/03/2002
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 158,713
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.68(d)
Lexile: 1010L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Haven Kimmel studied English and creative writing at Ball State University and North Carolina State University and attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.


Durham, North Carolina

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Mooreland, Indiana


B.A., Ball State University

Read an Excerpt

Baby Book

The following was recorded by my mother in my baby book, under the heading milestones:

first steps: Nine months! Precocious!

first teeth: Bottom two, at eight months. Still nursing her, but she doesn't bite, thank goodness!

first says "mommy": (blank)

first says "daddy": (blank)

first waves bye-bye: As of her first birthday, she is not much interested in waving bye-bye.

At age eighteen months, the baby book provided a space for further milestones, in which my mother wrote:

She's still very active and energetic. Her daddy calls her "Zippy," after a little chimpanzee he saw roller-skating on television. The monkey was first in one place and then zip! in another. Has twelve teeth. I'm still nursing her--she's a thin baby, and it can't hurt--but I'm thinking of weaning her to a bottle. There's no sense in trying to get her to drink from a cup. Still not talking. Dr. Heilman says she has perfectly good vocal cords, and to give it time.

On my second birthday:

Still no words from our little Zippy. She is otherwise a delight and a very sweet baby. I have turned her life over to God, to do with as He sees fit. I believe He must have a very special plan for her, because I'm sure that terrible staph infection in her ear that nearly killed her when she was a newborn must have, as the doctors feared, reached her brain. She is so quiet we hardly know she is here, and so unlike many of our friends, we can speak freely in front of her without fear she will repeat us. Little Becky Dawson walked up to Agnes Johnson in church last Sunday and called her Broad As A Barn. You know she heard that at home. We are very grateful for our little angel on her second birthday.

This entry was made on a separate piece of paper:

I've been thinking about first words, and so before I forget, here are some other important ones:

Melinda: Mama

Danny: No

Bob: Me (Mom Mary thought this was so cute; she says she first thought he was saying ma ma ma but really he was saying me me me)

My first word, of course, was Magazine.

The other day I overheard Melinda saying her night-time prayers, and she was asking that someday her little sister be able to tie her shoes. Bless her heart. We all hope as much.

Under favorite activities, Mom recorded:

God's Own Special Angel: Our Miracle Baby!

Far and away her favorite activity is rocking. She has her own rocking chair, and Bob rocks her to sleep every night. She is now refusing to take naps in her baby bed; if I try putting her down she doesn't cry or make any noise, but holds on to the rail and bounces so hard and for so long that I fear for her little spinal cord. She is not content until I put her on her rocking horse, where she bounces hard enough to cause it to hop across the floor. Eventually she grows weary and begins rocking, and then the rocking slows down, and finally she puts her head down on the hard, plastic mane and falls asleep, and I am able to move her to her bed.

Dr. Heilman is finally recognizing that all of this might be due to the fact that her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck three times when she was born. I'm not sure why that has caused her not to grow any hair, however. She does have a few precious wisps, which I slick together with baby oil in order to put in a barrette or a ribbon.

Also she loves to go camping. Went fishing for the first time when she was only three weeks old! Her daddy is starting early! She carries a bottle with her everywhere she goes (which is everywhere). Everyone thinks I should have weaned her (she is now 30 months), but I just don't have the heart to take anything away from her.

This letter, written in my mom's tiny, precise script, was placed haphazardly in the middle of the book:

Dearest Little One: I don't know if you'll ever be able to read this, but there's a story I think you should know. When you were only five weeks old, just a tiny, tiny baby, you became very ill. You ran a terribly high fever, and would not stop crying, night and day. The doctors said you had a staph infection in your ear, and that there was nothing they could do. Dr. Heilman was out of town, and we were sent to his replacement. He told us you could die at home or in the hospital. We took you home, and I didn't sleep for days. In desperation your father called our dear friends Ruth and Roland Wiser, and they drove down to Mooreland from Gary. Gary, Indiana, sweetheart, which is hours and hours away! Your father locked me in the Driftwood, our little camper, and Ruth and Roland stayed up all night, taking turns walking you so I could sleep. The next day I took you back to the doctor. He told us there was a new kind of medicine, an antibiotic, that might possibly help you, but he was not reassuring. He said there were twenty-six varieties of this medicine (the same as the alphabet); that probably only one would do you any good, and that he couldn't possibly know which one to prescribe, because they were so new. He showed me a sample case of them, little vials lined up along a spectrum, and then he just reached in and plucked one out and told me to try it. I could tell he knew it was hopeless.

We took you home and gave you the medicine. You cried yourself to sleep, and I, too, fell asleep rocking you. Just before I nodded off I told God plainly that I was letting you go, that I was delivering you into His hands. When I woke up you were silent, and I knew you were gone. I felt something damp against my arm, and when I pulled back your baby blanket, I saw that the infection had broken and run out your ear. Your skin was cool and covered with sweat, and you were sleeping deeply.

When Dr. Heilman came home he told us that the resident had been right--there was only one medicine that would have saved you, and he plucked it blindly out of the case. Dr. Heilman calls you his "Miracle Baby" now. Olive Overton, my dear friend from church, says that she knew you before you were born, and that it took you some time to decide whether or not you wanted to stay in this world.

I thought you ought to know about Ruth and Roland. What they did was what it means to love someone. We are all so grateful you decided to stay.

The last entry is dated four months before my third birthday:

This weekend we went camping. After dinner little Zippy was running in circles around the campfire, drinking from her bottle, and Bob decided she'd had it long enough. He walked over to her and said, "Sweetheart, you're a big girl now, and it's time for you to give up that bottle. I want you to just give it to me, and we're going to throw it in the fire. Okay?" This was met with many protests from Danny and Melinda and me; we all felt that there was no call to take something away from one who has so little. The baby looked at us; back at her dad, and then pulled the bottle out of her mouth with an audible pop, and said, clear as daylight, "I'll make a deal with you." Her first words! Bob didn't hesitate. "What's the deal?" She said, "If you let me keep it, I'll hide it when company comes and I won't tell no-body." He thought about it for just a moment, then shook his head. "Nope. No deal." So she handed over the bottle, and we all stood together while Bob threw it in the fire. It was a little pink bottle, made of plastic. It melted into a pool.

Now that we know she can talk, all I can say is: dear God. Please give that child some hair. Amen.


Somehow my first wig and my first really excellent pair of slippers arrived simultaneously.

Now my hair, my actual human hair which grows out of my head, was slow in coming. I was bald until I was nearly three. My head was also strangely crooked, and it happened that the little patches of wispy bird hair I did have grew only in the dents. Also my eyes were excessively large and decidedly close together. When my mother first saw me in the hospital she looked up with tears in her eyes and said to my father, "I'll love her and protect her anyway."

When my hair finally did come in, when I was three, it did so with a vengeance: thick and sprouty and curly. And not those lovely loopy curls only ungrateful men get; it was more like fourteen thousand cowlicks. In fact, left to its own devices, my head looks like a big hair alarm going off.

We tried a variety of hairstyles in those early years. The really short haircut (the Pixie, as it was then called) was my favorite, and coincidentally, the most hideous. Many large, predatory birds believed I was asking for a date. I especially liked that style because I imagined it excused me from any form of personal hygiene, which I detested. I was so opposed to bathing that I used to have a little laughing reaction every time a certain man in town walked by and said hello to me and I had to respond with "Hi, Gene."

After a year as a Pixie, my sister decided what my hair needed was "weight." Melinda executed all the haircutting ideas in our house and, in fact, cut off the tip of my earlobe one summer afternoon because she was distracted by As the World Turns.

The weight we added to my hair made me look like a fuzzy bush, a bush gone vague. I decided to take the scissors to it myself, and had just gotten started when my dad brought home my new wig, which he had won in a card game. I can imagine that some eight-year-olds would see an implied message in the gift of a wig; all I saw was hair, long and straight and mahogany colored, like the tail of a horse. It wasn't actually a wig--it was called a "fall," and it attached to the middle of my head by a comb, and then fell down my back.

Now because it was a fall and not a wig, there was a problem with all that front part, like the bang part, and those side areas that swooped up into little points, but I decided to take what I could get. I had never before shown any interest in my physical self--my sister swore I had no pride--so when I asked her for bobby pins to help hold my new hair on, she gave them to me without so much as a snicker.

I was admiring myself in the bathroom mirror when Melinda came in and asked me, a bit sheepishly, if I wanted her old house slippers. She had outgrown them, and had never really liked them anyway. I turned and looked at her suspiciously, thinking this was surely a trap, but she was genuine.

I wore my new hair into her bedroom. Her room was painted the color of the best sky, and next to her bed she had a wicker chair and on the chair was a homemade, stuffed clown. It was a very benevolent-looking thing, but once when she was away at a friend's house I snuck into her bed and it began talking to me in the dark, so I kept a wide berth.

Without ceremony, she gave me the slippers. They were made of the most fabulous, long, fake fur, and when worn, made the human foot look like a pink, oval biscuit. The fur kind of sprouted up off the top of the slippers and hung down to the floor. They made a delicious little snicking sound as I walked, too. I remember no house slippers before or after this pair.

Yes, I had beautiful long hair, and yes, I had beautiful slippers, but I was still myself, and there was only one thing I could think to do to keep from bursting. I decided to go play rodeo on my bicycle with the purple banana seat and the sissy bars. It was my stallion, and we had been down a dusty road or two. As I climbed on and started speeding down the street, I could feel my sister's newfound respect fading like an old star, but I couldn't stop. I turned the corner of Charles and Jefferson as if nothing could touch me--I rode faster and faster. As I rode past the Kizers' house, where all the mangy foster children lived, one of them shouted, "Nice wig!" And I yelled back, my face bent close to the handlebars, "It's my real hair!" And then another block up, Ruth Kennedy shouted did I know I was wearing my slippers, and I yelled, "They're my actual feet!" And it was a long time before I went back home.

The Lion

My dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said I'd have to think about it. I questioned some friends, and discovered that these were the options available to me: ice skater, cowboy, teacher of little kids, large animal veterinarian. I didn't really, in my deepest heart, want to be any of those. I began to fear that I might live my whole life without gainful employment, as most of the rest of my family had.

Dad told me to think about what I enjoyed doing most, and how I wanted people to see me when I was grown, and I set my mind to that. I was deeply, tragically in love with Telly Savalas at the time, and carried his picture around in an old wallet my grandma, Mom Mary, had given me. My love for him made me dissatisfied with my own life.

I was in a state all during that career time, and then one night, just before I fell asleep, I realized what I wanted to be. The next morning I jumped down the stairs, skipping every other one, so that my mom called me Herd of Elephants. I went outside, where my dad was puttering in his tool shed, and told him I wanted to belong to the Mafia. He asked what did I mean when I said that, and I said like in the movies, and he nodded.

Table of Contents

Baby Book5
The Lion14
Qualities of Light, or Disasters Involving Animals17
Julie Hit Me Three Times31
There She Is46
Blood of the Lamb51
Unexpected Injuries61
The Kindness of Strangers73
Favors for Friends83
Haunted Houses91
A Short List of Things My Father Lost Gambling130
The World of Ideas134
Slumber Party173
Interior Design192
Drift Away211
Reading List217
The Social Gospel245
The Letter262
A Guide for Reading Groups279

Reading Group Guide

A Guide for Reading Groups (or for Anyone Who Wants to Ponder Zippy Further)

Whisking us to a simpler time and a much, much simpler place, A Girl Named Zippy provides a refreshing escape from twenty-first century woes. If your reading group has decided to treat itself to a Mooreland sojourn, you’ll discover that there’s plenty to say about the town’s most imaginative little girl (even if she did remain speechless until age three). We hope that the following questions will enhance your discussion, spotlight memorable passages, and make your reading experience even livelier. For information about other Broadway Books reading group guides, visit us at www.broadwaybooks.com.

1. Zipp's numerous pets include Sam the Pig, Speckles the Chicken, dogs Kai and Tiger, a pony named Tim, cats PeeDink and Smokey, and Skippy the Hamster. How does Haven Kimmel develop the animals as sympathetic characters or villains (such as Chanticleer, the abusive rooster)? How does a child’s bond with animals differ from that of an adult? Which of Zippy's pet stories was the most memorable for you? Discuss the significant animals of your own childhood.

2. At first glance, A Girl Named Zippy appears to be a collection of assorted scenes, almost like a scrapbook. Yet the chapters unfold as if they were part of novel. What themes thread their way through the work as a whole? What recurring predicaments are resolved as Zippy gets older?

3. Haven Kimmel introduces us to a slew of eccentric Mooreland residents, from the grumpy drugstore owner to the postman who only delivers the mail he approves of. How do various communities--big cities and small towns alike--define eccentricity? Were Mooreland’s attempts at homogeneity and clean living successful? How does Mooreland compare to your town?

4. The introductory quote from Emerson asks, "Is there no event...which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form?" Which portions of A Girl Named Zippy do you perceive as being precisely accurate, and which ones seem slightly embellished by the process Emerson calls "soaring from our body into the empyrean"?

5. Consider Zippy’s family: her gun-toting but sensitive dad, bookish mother, adored big brother, and mercurial big sister. In what ways is the Jarvis family dynamic both typical and unusual?

6. Does Haven Kimmel seem to approve or disapprove of her upbringing?

7. Zippy often discusses religion. How does her mother’s Quaker community differ from her father's "church in the woods"? Is he really as godless as his wife thinks he is?

8. Numerous memoirs have been published that expose deeply painful childhoods. Haven Kimmel alludes to a few dark aspects of life in Mooreland, such as poverty, a lecherous teacher, and her father’s gambling problem. How do Zippy's coping skills compare to those of other children you've read about?

9. The chapter entitled "The World of Ideas" introduces us to Zippy's maternal grandmother, described as "a moneyed old woman in a small, depressed city." What insight does this section give us into Zippy's mother, who was raised in an environment that was very different from Zippy's?

10. How was Zippy changed by her friendship with Dana, whose parents worked in a factory, were atheists, and seemed uninterested in their child?

11. A few aspects of Zippy's childhood would be hard to find in today's households. Which of her recollections best represent the late 1960s and early 1970s?

12. Zippy had an unusual bond with Julie, her snaggletooth friend. How do you suppose Zippy was able to interpret Julie's silence, even over the phone? Why did Julie hit Zippy three times in the chapter by the same name?

13. Petey was Zippy's nemesis, abusing animals and even raising a carnivorous rabbit. Discuss the grade-school bullies in your past. What sort of adults did they become?

14. What is it about Haven Kimmel's tone that makes even everyday events seem compelling? How does she balance humor and poignancy?

15. Were the Jarvises poor?

16. In light of the book’s beginning, what is the significance of the story in the final chapter, in which Zippy receives a piano from Santa? What do the closing sentences "thank you for not losing faith" and "thank you for being so brave tonight" reveal about Zippy and her parents?

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Girl Named Zippy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 117 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much that I bought 4 more copies and sent them to my mother, my daughter, and my two best friends! As a woman who grew up in a small town in the Midwest in the 60s and 70s, this book really hit home! It is both hilarious and heartwarming. I absolutely love Zippy and her family, as flawed as they may be. I read it within a few days, and then purchased and started on Ms. Kimmel's next book. All I can say to her is, 'Keep 'em coming!'
MeganB21 More than 1 year ago
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel is a book full of cute stories of a big eyed and curious girl who lives in the small town of Mooreland, Indiana in the 1970¿s. Nicknamed ¿Zippy¿ from her father for the way she ran around the house, she was a girl with big eyes and ears and an even bigger personality. In this memoir, you follow the life of Zippy from her family to friends to the many barnyard pets she finds so fascinating. These collective memories of a simple country girl create the heartwarming and touching tale of a young American girl as she finds herself. The major themes and messages throughout the book are how family and friends are so important. The author describes this importance of friends and family throughout her memoir by showing how happy and helpful the people in her life were. Haven Kimmel describes the looks and smells of her family and friends in positive way. Her vivid memories and smells of her kitchen, barn and house give you the warm feeling that can only be given through the wonderful family and friends we are close to. I am not usually a fan of nonfiction but A Girl Named Zippy was a quick and cute read that captivated the reader. The author was able to not just tell you the story of a small town in Indiana, but she was able to show it to you from the perspective of a curios girl growing up and all of her questions and observations that kept the reader involved. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the book and the heartwarming memories that created it. It really makes the reader appreciate the little memories that make up life. This memoir contained many short stories, and some to me didn¿t have too much meaning in Zippy¿s life. I enjoyed majority of the memories but some of them seemed pointless and didn¿t give you any insight into the character¿s feelings. Occasionally, characters were introduced but not brought up again. The stories were touching but didn¿t have much action in them. I always thought there would be more of a plot but I never really found one. This book shares a lot about the 1970¿s lifestyle and living in the country at this time. If readers are interested in this and heartwarming tales that let you connect with the author, they should definitely read this book. It is great for readers who like short stories and the simple things in life that we all remember. If a reader wants more action and a big scene with a fast paced storyline though, then this is definitely not the book for them. As far as nonfiction goes, I also recommend Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine. It¿s a great, true story of a girl who will do almost anything to pursue her dream of being a princess.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am in love with Haven Kimmel (Zippy). I could not put this book down and found myself convulsing with laughter while reading it. I fell in love with each family member. This is a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Honest to God, if there is one story you must read in your lifetime, it is 'A Girl Named Zippy'. Haven Kimmel's writing style (in this book) is superb and her character development is phenomenal. On many occasions, I literally found myself laughing hysterically outloud. In fact, I even read portions of the book to my husband because it was sooooo entertaining. Do yourself a favor, and pick this book up today. You will not regret it and you will even find moments in your busy, hectic day where you'll think about some of the funny parts in this book. And it will bring a smile to your face, guaranteed. I am choosing this book for my book club this month and hope that everyone will enjoy it like I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is truly one of the best books I've ever read (and I read a LOT!) It's rereadable, quotable ("It's my real hair!"), moving, laugh out loud funny, cry-it's-so-true-and-sad. I've read it several times; it's always on my Nook. You can pick it up anywhere and read a chapter. I gave a copy to my sister, she gave copies to her friends, it just goes on! Whether Kimmel really remembers everything exactly as it happened, it's so true. Her writing is moving without being pretentious. She evokes a little life in a big way. I'm not much for memoirs;they're usually about lives that are only interesting in a purient way. But Zippy! There's a very short list of books I'll read for the rest of my life, and this is one of them. I've tried her fiction...eh. Nothing she's ever written, in my opinion, is as good as Zippy, and it's sequel, She Got Up Off the Couch.
Felonious More than 1 year ago
This is a memoir about a girl who was born in 1965 and grew up in a small Indiana town. At first I was thinking I would have little interest in or find anything I would relate to in her story. I was wrong. Haven Kimmel did a great job of telling her story in a way that was interesting and funny. I found myself relating to many aspects of the story. Being about the same age as Zippy helped me relate to the era she grew up in, but the story is about more than being born in the 60's, growing up in a small town or being a girl, it's about being a kid and being a kid is something we can all relate to. As I was reading "A Girl Named Zippy" I found myself having fond memories of my own childhood and moments spent with my parents. What more could one as for?
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought this was the most poignant and hilarous tale of growing up in indiana! this young womans take on her childhood was to refreshing-no abuse, no drugs, (maybe a dash of alcohol just to be social), no nothing except unconditional love and devotion. she's able to embody a young girls mind unlike anyone i've ever seen. it's a bit ramona the pest meets dorothy parker! just awesome. i hope to see more of this wonderful author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recieved this book as a gift and was hesitant to begin reading it thinking that "Zippy" was going to be another boring autobiography. Was I wrong!! This book is hilarious. I couldn't put it down once I began to read. If you grew up in the mid to late 60's this is definitely a book for you. I caught myself laughing out loud on several occasions. It's a must read for anyone that wants a good laugh. It reminded me so much of growing up with my own brothers and sisters. It is truly hilarious!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book I didnt want it to end. i would love if she had a second book to this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, it was so quirky and well written. The adventures of this little girl are full of fun and reality. The author makes some great observations about her life, her family and the town she grew up. Its a quick read that will have you laughing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Much as I hated my midwestern small town as a teenager, this book brought back fond childhood memories. I look to this book time and again to read its excerpts which comfort me.
countrylife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was charmed by this little memoir, and glad I chose the audio version, which was narrated by the author. Hearing her memories through the various shades and timbre of her speech put just the right zip in the vignettes from her childhood. Thoughtful and humorous and altogether winning.
chrystal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book, endearing, funny, heartbreaking, all from a childs point of view. Read it.
librarygeek33 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You've GOT to read this. Laugh-out-loud funny!
EllenH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book club read. I laughed often and enjoyed the way Haven described her not so perfect life with humor and with a child's view. I preferred this way more so than the other memoirs of hard growing up by Mary Carr.
countrybookgal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't read this book if you have a hard time reading about animal cruelty.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Haven Kimmal was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the house, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period - people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards.
knitwit2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love to read memoirs , but I find it rare to run across one so happy. I laughed out loud so many times that I lost count. Out young heroine Zip is at once precocious and dense, she is innocent and conniving. I'd love to meet her as an adult she must be a blast to hang out with.
Jenners26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The title pretty much says it all, but it doesn't tell you how amazingly well-written this book is and how endearing the author, family and town is. I fell in love with this book when I first read it, and I reread it every few years just to revisit the world that Kimmel describes with such love. There is a follow-up book -- She Got Up Off The Couch -- that chronicles the author's mother's "radical" (for the times) college education and what she went through to get it.
nhart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. Even though Zippy had less than the ideal parents--she saw the positive and appears to have had a memorable childhood. Funny incidents and profound experiences with both parents and sibblings. Father's "church" a great example.
karieh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK ¿ this is only the second of Haven Kimmel¿s books that I¿ve read ¿ and I have to say that she¿s rocketing to the top of my favorite authors chart. ¿The Used World¿ was the first book of hers that I read and loved and now I can say that I like her fiction AND non-fiction.I remember when ¿A Girl Named Zippy¿ came out¿with that title and with that cover? Who could miss it? At the time, I dismissed it, I¿m not sure why. Probably? Because the word Zippy was in the title. Foolish me!¿Not long ago my sister Melinda shocked me by saying she had always assumed that the book on Mooreland had yet to be written because no one sane would be interested in reading it. ¿No, no, wait,¿ she said. ¿I know who might read such a book. A person lying in a hospital bed with no television and no roommate. Just lying there. Maybe waiting for a physical therapist. And then here comes a candy striper with a squeaky library cart and on that cart is only one book ¿ or maybe two books: yours, and Cooking with Pork. I can see how a person would be grateful for Mooreland then.¿Count me as grateful and/or insane. Though I probably never want to live in Mooreland, Indiana (population 300), I certainly enjoyed Kimmel¿s lovingly drawn memoirs of her childhood there.Back to the cover of the book, by the way? On at least my copy, it features a¿striking picture of a child, I assume Haven Kimmel, which inspires one of the best quotes of the book. ¿When my mother first saw me in the hospital she looked up with tears in her eyes and said to my father, ¿I¿ll love her and protect her anyway.¿This book is filled with a mix of very funny, very sad and sometime incredibly poignant stories. One passage might make me laugh out loud, and the next may have me silenced by its loveliness. After her father gives her a single egg as a reminder of a lost beloved pet, ¿I put it in the refrigerator, on a nest made out of a blue handkerchief. Over the next few days and weeks I took it out and looked at it many times, but I didn¿t know what to do with it. I kept it so long that whatever was inside it completely dried up, and finally it was so light and insubstantial in my hand that it seemed barely to exist. It was just a sigh of a thing.¿I am far from a small town person, but one senses the love and nostalgia in Kimmel¿s words that make a town with an unchanging population of 300 sound not too bad.¿When I think of getting up for church, it is always winter in our house, but when I think of the actual walk, a small town block ¿ our house and yard and the house and yard of Reed and Mary Ball, who never ever left their front porch ¿ it is always a perfect summer day that will wither in my absence.¿It¿s that mixture of seeing with adult and child¿s eyes simultaneously, and the acknowledgement of the eccentric things that are our memories that I think I appreciated the most. A mixture seasoned liberally with gentle humor.¿Yes, like a Shrine.¿ As far as I knew, Shrines wore absurd hats and drove miniature cars in circles during the Mooreland Fair Parade, and were praised, inexplicably, for burning children.¿Towards the end of the book, I finally caught on to the fact that Kimmel grew up in extremely poor circumstances. It¿s not that she tries to hide that fact¿it¿s that nothing is written in a way to inspire pity or awe or sympathy. She lays the facts out, but then puts the focus on that which in her life was the most positive. The things didn¿t matter¿the people mattered.¿When he (her father) was at the wheel, everyone else could sleep because he never would. In short, he was what it meant to be a father and a man in 1971. Up against his power I could see none of his failings.¿And ¿Even though my mother almost never left the couch, she was a woman of many gifts, my favorite being her ability to make anything she was eating crunch. I still don¿t know how she did it, and I tried to stump her with a wide variety of foods. ¿Aha! Try these raisins,¿ I would say
Chatfemme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
May, 2010 Re-read this book recently and loved it just as much. Kimmel takes an ordinary small town little girl's life and animates it with fascinating characters and hilarious or poignant stories of small town life. I love it.
DanaJean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny, heartwarming, honest--this book reminded me of a grown-up and just a shade darker take on Junie B. Jones. Well written, just a nice flow to the stories.
lynnwords on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
so freaking funny and true
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Presented in a series of not always connected vignettes, Kimmel gives us a picture of simple, uncomplicated, untechnical life in the 1950s and 60s, growing up with a mother who is physically present, but mentally off in the land of her books (she seems to have lived almost permanently reclining on the sofa), and a father who could provide a seemingly coherent answer to just about any curious question Zippy dreamed up. Her observations on Jesus and organized religion will have you howling. They are funny without being sacriligious, and insightful far beyond the normal level of an 8-10 year old. There are several other stories written by Kimmel, and I'm definitely planning to explore them.