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A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Haven Kimmel

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1,946703,504 (3.87)78
Title:A Girl Named Zippy
Authors:Haven Kimmel
Info:Broadway (2002), Paperback, 275 pages
Tags:read 2012, memoir, Indiana, small town, humor, childhood, family

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A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel (2001)


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I only have vague recollections of this book, but they are that I wanted to like it more and just couldn't. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
A heartwarming look into the life of a small girl in Indiana in the sixties and early seventies. Does that make you think dolls, starched dresses, bike riding and cornfields? Well, Zippy had a bike but a middle-class well-adjusted little girl she was not. A town troublemaker, left largely to her own devices by a depressed mother, her upbringing is unusual, but her retelling of her story is funny, wry, occasionally warm, and completely memorable. ( )
  wareagle78 | Feb 3, 2014 |
If you're only going to read one of Kimmel's books, read She Got Up Off the Couch. But, if you're going to read two of them, read this one first. It's interesting to read about this girl who grew up with very little describe everything in such wonderment. Overall, this was a very good read with individual anecdotes that combine to create one whole picture. ( )
  amyolivia | Oct 25, 2013 |
I loved this book, and have recommended to lots of people. ( )
  Talaskat | Oct 8, 2013 |
I thought this book was so innocent and sweet. It is told through very subtly through eyes of very young, very naive "Zippy".

There was one part of the book (pg 117) that just cracked me up because I've seen a similar situation play out when my baby sister was just a toddler. It starts out, "There were so many things I was good at. [...] I was also very good at Interview. What follows is an actually transcript from a tape I made with my mother." (Which, I'm going to paraphrase because it's quite long when transcribed in full!)

Me: "Mom. Mom. Mom. Hey. Let'd do Interview."
Mom: "Not now, sweetheart. Let me just finish this arm. [Note: she was knitting a sweater.]"
Zippy the snorts unhappily into the microphone and shuts off the recorder. After this scene repeats several times, increasing in her young fury and impatience, she starts to sing Bible songs and finally her mother tells her to shush up or they'll never play.

Mom: "Good evening, and welcome to Interview. Let's just go straight to our guest and have her tell us her name. Can you tell us your name, miss?"
Me: "No"
Mom [surprised]: Okay, then, is there something else you'd like to tell our audience?"
Me: "Not today."
Mom: "Well, then. I guess we'll just sign off. Would like to say good-bye?"
Me: "No"
Tape is shut off.

That just had me giggling because it is such a child thing to do and it was adorable.

What I liked the most about this memoir was that it was simple. Not in a demeaning way but in a whimsical way. This child was accident-prone, sensitive, bullish, awkward, honest and slightly strange which made her very likable. This is not a tragic story riddle with addiction, abuse, death or sudden epiphanies - it's the story of a relatively normal and happy childhood in a small town. It's refreshing.

I also thought it was hilarious that her sister told her she was adopted and her quiet, Quaker mother corroborated the story by telling she was traded by the gypsies in exchange for a bottomless green velvet bag and that she had been born with tail. There are several anecdotes similar and each of them is worth reading about.

What I didn't like: Has nothing to do with the writing, but with the Book Club Questions in the back. The editor missed a pretty glaring error in the question:

15. Where the Jarvises poor?

WHAT! What grammatical abomination is that? (Not to mention that at the very beginning of one of the stories, she makes a statement about how none of her brother's teachers like the poor families and therefore gave him a very hard time growing up). But, seriously, "Where the Jarvises poor?" That makes my brain hurt.

Where they poor what?
Where they pour what?
Were the Jarvis' poor? ding, ding, ding.

For being a #1 NY Times Bestseller and Today's Book Club edition, I'm surprised no one reviewed the book club companion hooked it..

Book is excellent, witty and deliciously plain all at the same time. ( )
  tealightful | Sep 24, 2013 |
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So is there no fact, no event, in our private history,, which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form, and astonish us by souring from our body into the empyrean? Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, and dogs, and ferules, the love of little maids and verries, and many another facts that once filled the whole sky, are gone already; friend and relative, profession and party, town and country, nation and world, must also soar and sing. --Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Soldier
For my mother and my sister
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If you look at an atlas of the United States, one published around, say, 1940, there is, in the state of Indiana, north of New Castle and east of the Epileptic Village, a small town called Mooreland.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767915054, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:55 -0400)

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The author offers a chronicle of growing up in a small town in America's heartland, offering portraits of her family and her encounters with the complexities of the adult world, romance, and small-town life during the 1960s and 1970s.

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