The idea is to write about some favorite books
that you read before you started blogging!
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel
What the Reviewers Said
From Publishers Weekly: It’s a cliche to say that a good memoir reads like a well-crafted work of fiction, but Kimmel’s smooth, impeccably humorous prose evokes her childhood as vividly as any novel. Born in 1965, she grew up in Mooreland, Ind., a place that by some “mysterious and powerful mathematical principle” perpetually retains a population of 300, a place where there’s no point learning the street names because it’s just as easy to say, “We live at the four-way stop sign.” Hers is less a formal autobiography than a collection of vignettes comprising the things a small child would remember: sick birds, a new bike, reading comics at the drugstore, the mean old lady down the street. The truths of childhood are rendered in lush yet simple prose. Here’s Zippy describing a friend who hates wearing girls’ clothes: “Julie in a dress was like the rest of us in quicksand.” Over and over, we encounter pearls of third-grade wisdom revealed in a child’s assured voice: “There are a finite number of times one can safely climb the same tree in a single day”; or, regarding Jesus, “Everyone around me was flat-out in love with him, and who wouldn’t be? He was good with animals, he loved his mother, and he wasn’t afraid of blind people.”
What I Say
I tend not to keep many of my books — mostly because I tend not to reread books too often and because my husband complained about all the space they took up in the house. So books come in and books go out fairly quickly. However, I do keep a few books and reread them every few years; A Girl Named Zippy is one of them. I don’t think too many grown-ups can write eloquently and beautifully about what it was like to be a child, but Kimmel can. Her memoir of growing up in a small Midwestern town is wondrously attuned to the experience of childhood. Her book is proof positive that you don’t need a lot of drama in your life to write a spectacular memoir — just a good eye for details and a way with words. So many memoirs are about horrible childhoods — filled with abuse, neglect and drama. Not this one. This is one is about riding your bike, climbing trees, having a best friend, the fun of exploring your town, and having a family that loves you. If you want to visit in the Happy World of Childhood, read this book. It will make you happy.
Note: There is a sequel of sorts to this book — She Got Up Off The Couch — that talks about the author’s mother and her attempt to get a college education in a time when that was NOT what women did. It is a lovely follow-up but not nearly as magical as A Girl Named Zippy — partly because the author is older and the wonder and magic of childhood has passed. Sigh.