Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Girl Named Zippy

I devoured this book, I tell you.  Devoured it.  I read and read and howled with laughter and read some more.  It was one of those books that refuses to let you go about your normal business.  I found myself wishing that it was Sunday so I could cheerfully forget about any work and read instead.  I cannot impress it hard enough upon all of you how much I loved A Girl Named Zippy.

Zippy is the memoir of a girl growing up in Mooreland, Indiana in the 60s.  That might sound pretty straightforward, but Haven Kimmel, the author, has a brilliant way of writing in her childhood voice.  I've heard it said that children make excellent reporters, but terrible interpreters.  This is exactly what is happening in this story.  Kimmel writes down all of her childhood memories with no adult interjection.  The little-girl voice she produces is amazing.

Kimmel's family was anything but functioning.  Her father was a drunk who never held down a job and gambled away everything from her pet pony to her mother's wedding rings.  Her mother, mired down in depression, spent Kimmel's early years on the couch.  However, the book is by no means a sob story.  It is witty and poignant and fun to read.  In spite of all the challenges that I am sure faced her, Kimmel writes about them as a child would-simply stating, Yes my mother lived on the couch for 7 years, what's funny about that?  Then there are wonderful stories about growing up in a colorful community, from the funny Quaker church where she grew up to the best friend who had all her teeth knocked out.

You know how after you read a really, really well-written book you feel kind of spoiled and like no mediocre writing will suit?  That's how I feel right now.  Luckily, Haven Kimmel has written a sequel and you can be sure that I will be reading it very soon.
The second book

It's after reading a book like this that I feel like I praise books too indiscriminately.  I almost never review a book and give it a really nit-picky review, but now I'm thinking that, perhaps, it would be better to do that.  Think what a big impression it would make, then, if I reviewed this book and gave it a whole-hearted praise without any reservations.  My new goal is to write reviews that delve deeper into my likes and dislikes about books, that critique the writing at a deeper level.  So here's to writing nit-picking reviews in the future!

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