Title: A Girl Named Zippy
Author: Haven Kimmel
First published March 20, 2001
275 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780965030069 (ISBN10: 0965030067)
Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy is a heartwarming memoir that takes readers on a journey to small-town America in the 1960s. Zippy, as she was nicknamed, was a small girl with big eyes and even bigger ears, living in a town where people knew their neighbors and kept barnyard animals in their backyard.
In this memoir, Kimmel shares her childhood memories, including the time when she struck a bargain with her father to keep her baby bottle and spoke for the very first time. Along with her supportive family, including her beautiful yet serious brother, a sensible sister, a wise mother, and a father who loved making bets, Zippy navigates the world around her with a sweet and shy demeanor.
From dealing with an evil neighbor to her father’s hilarious attempt to prove the quietness of his dogs with thirty-six coon dogs and a raccoon, Kimmel’s memoir is a delightful read that captures the essence of small-town America in the postwar period.
About the Author
Born in New Castle, Indiana, Haven Kimmel spent her childhood in Mooreland, Indiana, which later became the subject of her popular memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. Kimmel pursued her passion for writing by earning an undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
Later, she studied under the guidance of novelist Lee Smith at North Carolina State University, where she obtained her graduate degree. Kimmel also attended seminary at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana.
Nowadays, she resides in Durham, North Carolina.
Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy is a heartfelt memoir that takes readers back to a small town in Mooreland, Indiana, during the 1960s and 70s. Through her vivid and humorous writing, Kimmel invites her audience to witness her childhood experiences, family dynamics, and interactions with the eccentric townspeople.
The book is mainly an account of the author’s life from her pre-school days to her early adolescence, as seen through the eyes of a curious and intelligent child. Kimmel introduces Zippy as an energetic, bright, and talkative girl who often feels misunderstood and out of place in her hometown.
Throughout the book, readers become acquainted with a cast of quirky characters such as Zippy’s parents, her siblings, and her colorful neighbors. Despite the light-hearted tone of the book, Kimmel subtly grapples with a number of serious themes.
She takes on topics such as poverty, mental illness, domestic violence, adoption, and racism, all through Zippy’s innocent and observant viewpoint. These relatable issues add depth to the memoir and heighten the reader’s empathy towards Zippy and her family.
One of the greatest strengths of A Girl Named Zippy is Kimmel’s writing style. Her prose is engaging, witty, and evocative, transporting readers to the era of her childhood.
She describes her surroundings and characters with a great deal of detail and humor, making the book not only enjoyable but also an insightful study of small town life. Her use of foreshadowing creates a subtle sense of anticipation that keeps readers engaged throughout the book.
However, the memoir may come across as overly episodic at times, with the memoir feeling less like a cohesive narrative and more like a series of loosely connected anecdotes. Additionally, while Zippy’s character is well-crafted, other characters in the book could have benefited from more complex development.
Overall, A Girl Named Zippy provides a poignant, heartwarming reflection on growing up in rural America. It reveals the joys and struggles of childhood, and the importance of family, neighbors, and community in shaping our identities.
Fans of memoirs, coming-of-age stories, and humorous writing are sure to enjoy this book. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.