A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel
A poignant and hilarious memoir of growing up in small-town Indiana. The vivid descriptions and characterizations bring Kimmel’s childhood to life and read more like a novel than nonfiction.
I didn’t grow up in a small town, and I didn’t grow up in Indiana, so my adoration for this book doesn’t come from a familiarity with her stories. Not much of her childhood reminds me of my own, but her tales almost make me wish that I had grown up nearby to experience life in Mooreland.
You can read the prologue and know if Kimmel’s humor is your sort; she had me laughing by the second page as she described her sister’s suggestion of who would be interested in reading a book about Mooreland.
I do have a few hesitations about recommending it (despite how much I love it). There are descriptions of how animals are treated that can be rough. Country and farm living can be a lot less sentimental towards animals, and that’s clear in the book. Zippy can also be irreverent towards religion.
In addition, if you want a lot of exciting action in your autobiographies or memoirs, this is not the book for you. It’s filled with vignettes of her childhood in a sleepy town, so there aren’t a lot of super dramatic incidents to relay. That didn’t bother me at all; I loved how Kimmel related everyday situations and events.
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.
If you enjoyed A Girl Named Zippy, She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana is a continuation of the story, although there is more focus on her mother than Zippy.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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