31 Days of Great Nonfiction: A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. Day 1 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, IndianaA Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. Day 1 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader 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.

Publishers Description:
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.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction BooksIf you enjoyed A Girl Named Zippy, She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, IndianaShe 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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  1. What a great series and so helpful too. I’m always on the hunt for good reads. I’m definitely pinning this series. 🙂 Found you at the Nester…come by for some serious motivation. Jessica


  2. Thanks for the recommendation, I put it on my to-read list. I’m excited to get more.

  3. Hi Sheila! I also found you on the Nester…I have a bookish series this month, too! I’ve subscribed – I can’t wait to read all of your recommendations! This is a fantastic review – thank you for your unique spin on it! I look forward to the rest. 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m excited to see several other book-related series this year – I hadn’t found yours yet, so I’m glad you shared it. I’ll be sure to check it out. 🙂

  4. Hi, glad I found you. I *almost* did a book series myself for the 31-days, but chose instead to write about 31 Trips in my native California. Anyway, I love non-fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing which books you pick, and see how many I’ve read myself! I read “Zippy” several years ago, liked it, but it didn’t make it as one of my favorites.

    • I hope I’ve got some books included in the series that will be new for you, and that you’ll love. Thanks for commenting!

  5. LOVE this idea! Non-fiction is my favorite and I will be back daily 🙂

  6. This a great idea!!

  7. I loved this book (and the sequel)–and you recommended it to me! She had me laughing at loud many times.

  8. Sounds fun! I loved Bill Bryson’s The Thunderbolt Kid about growing up in Iowa.

    It’s ironic that I’ve seen this cover about 1 million times (from working in a bookstore for more than 6 years) but I never even bothered to read the back and realize I might like it.

    • I’m a little bit surprised you could see that cover and not pick it up to see what it was about – it’s such a funny picture! Or maybe it’s just that I couldn’t resist flipping it over to see what the deal was with that picture, so I’m projecting. 😉

      I’ve had Bryson’s The Thunderbolt Kid on my TBR list for ages, but keep ignoring it. I’ve found his books to be inconsistent as far as whether or not I’ll like them – have loved some, and not been able to finish others. It hasn’t helped me decide if I want to give this one a shot. Based on your opinion, I think I should give it a try soon.


  1. […] Day 1 of this series (A Girl Named Zippy) Jessica at Quirky Bookworm mentioned his memoir, The Life and […]

  2. […] memoirs have, on the surface, seemed like they’d merit a “who cares?” (Exhibit A: A Girl Named Zippy. Growing up in a super small town in Indiana doesn’t seem like fodder for a memoir that had […]

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