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A Girl Named Zippy Paperback – September 3, 2002


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A Girl Named Zippy + She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana + The Solace of Leaving Early
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (September 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767915054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767915052
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's a clich‚ 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." (Mar.)Forecast: Dreamy and comforting, spiced with flashes of wit, this book seems a natural for readers of the Oprah school of women's fiction (e.g., Elizabeth Berg, Janet Fitch). The startling baby photograph on the cover should catch browsers' eyes.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this first book, Kimmel has written a love letter to her hometown of Mooreland, IN, a town with an unchanging population of 300 in America's heartland. Nicknamed "Zippy" for her energetic interpretation of a circus monkey, she could not be bothered to speak until she was three years old, and her first words involved bargaining with her father about whether or not a baby bottle was still appropriate. Born in 1965, Zippy lived in a world filled with a loving family, peculiar neighbors, and multitudes of animals, including a chicken she loved and treated like a baby. Her story is filled with good humor, fine storytelling, and acute observations of small town life. Recommended for libraries in the Midwest or with large memoir collections.DPam Kingsbury, Alabama Humanities Fdn., Florence
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Haven Kimmel is a wonderful writer.
Jesica
The author does a beautiful job of bringing the characters to life and revealing a childhood filled with loving parents, siblings and friends.
Pamela D. Knight
She knows how to put a book together; her life gets jumbled at times just like everyone else.
Brady L. Buchanan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on December 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is proof that each of us has plenty of material in our `ordinary' lives to use as material for writing a memoir. What most of us DON'T have, however, if Haven Kimmel's ability to write so well that what was really a very simple small-town childhood can be elevated to a 280-page book that utterly captivates. Kimmel achieves what many others have attempted to do and failed: she writes entirely from the child's voice without losing her audience, without becoming cloying, without making us want to smack her and say `get on with it.' By turns wickedly witty, humorous, poignant, sweet, heart-wrenching, wise, A Girl Named Zippy is simply one of the best books I've read this year, a poem to a happy childhood.
I resisted it for over a year, fearing it was going to be a sappy, feel-good story. Wrong. It's utterly original, utterly uplifting, utterly hilarious, utterly wonderful. Do NOT fail to read this book.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on November 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I just read the last page in A Girl Named Zippy, and now I'm at a loss. I want Zippy back! Normally, I'm not a fan of memoirs or non-fiction in general, but I had heard nothing but praise about this book. Thankfully I listened...
Haven Kimmel, or Zippy as she's come to be known due to the fact she used to zip around the house as a toddler, has opened her life to us. The laughter begins on page 2 when Zippy's sister comments on the type of people who would be willing to read a book about life in teeny Mooreland, Indiana. Well, count me in! Reading this book was such pure, emphatic joy. Zippy reminds me a bit of a female Dennis the Menace -- little bit of a pest, but sweet, mostly innocent, and a lot curious. The stories inside are told with a poignant tone, a wistfullness for the days when life was simple, despite how big it all seemed when you were only 3-feet-tall.
A happy childhood -- a breath of fresh air if you ask me. Stories like this make me grateful I grew up in a small town, and that if I thought hard enough I could come up with some stories of my own. A Girl Named Zippy has something for everybody, and a book that I will forever hold in high regard. Wonderful!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Barber on June 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A friend of mine opens to any page of "Bridget Jones' Diary" when she needs a laugh, but I prefer to do this with "A Girl Named Zippy." For anyone who grew up in a small town, Haven Kimmel's hilarious memoir is bound to strike a chord and elicit a grin. The stories of her father maniacally packing their camper to bursting for camping trips, his imaginative tormenting of their dog-hating neighbors, and the young Zippy giving haircuts to hippies in exchange for a dog had me in stitches! Aside from being a gifted storyteller, Haven is also a talented writer; her vivid descriptions and characterizations make this book read like a novel or short story collection. As I read this book, I couldn't help but think that if Scout of "To Kill a Mockingbird" had been a real girl, she would've grown up to write a memoir a lot like "A Girl Named Zippy." For anyone who wants to read a book that will make you laugh out loud and also give you a glimpse of an American life in simpler times--when a vacation either meant going out of town to visit relatives or taking a camping trip with your family--this is the book for you. Thanks for bringing back so many fond memories of my own rural Maryland upbringing, Haven!
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
My aunt and mother asked me to read this to see what I thought. It was billed as a thoughtful, hilarious memoir of a girl growing up in a small mid-western town. Sounded good to me. However, what I found were a few chuckles, some very good writing, but mostly I was taken with the sadness of her story. Her father gambled away her mother's wedding rings. Her mother was depressed and spent all her time reading sci-fi and convincing her she was adopted (cruel). Her neighbors were creeps that threatened to kill her pets. Her friend and her mother had to flee in the middle of the night from an abusive husband and father. Graphic detail of animals being killed, butchered, dying and rotting under houses, etc. All I know is that if this is what people are describing as a funny, heartwarming childhood memoir, I'm sorry for us all. It was nicely written and I'd love to see her try again, but this just wasn't my cup of tea.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on January 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY by Haven Kimmel

January 8, 2005

One of my favorite books read in 2004 was this one, A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY by Haven Kimmel. I'm not one to read memoirs, but the front cover caught my eye. The photo of this nearly bald headed little girl in a ruffled blue dress and huge eyes and big ears was something that I couldn't walk away from. And with enough recommendations from other readers, I finally picked up the book at the end of 2004.

Zippy was the nickname of Haven Kimmel, because of the way she used to zip around the room. The book is told from her point of view, but through her eyes as a young precocious girl. We see things as they happened years ago, starting from how she thinks (in her humorous way) her mother and the rest of her family saw her. One of the funniest sections of this memoir was Zippy recalling her mother's journal and writing about Zippy, and the fact that she hadn't spoken a word until the age of three. When Zippy finally spoke her first words and they were "I'll make a deal with you", spoken to her father, her mother's journal entry was "Now that we know she can talk, all I can say is `dear God. Please give that child some hair. Amen'". There were lines like this and many more that had me laughing out loud as I read.

A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY is told in little vignettes, and goes back and forth in time. The reader is reliving Kimmel's childhood through flashes of memory, one leading into another, and not necessarily in chronological order. Although this style doesn't always work, I felt it was perfect for this book. The short chapters made this book a fast read.
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