A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

Haven Kimmel portrays the innocence that childhood holds in A Girl Named Zippy. The nickname Zippy is so appropriate for this little girl as she is seen as the classroom menace and the neighborhood nuisance. Teachers dismiss her as a clown and neighbors slam doors in her face. But Zippy’s tenaciousness and tight grasp on life comes through.

Zippy gives us a humorous—sometimes not so humorous—look at a child’s life from a child’s viewpoint. As a memoirist, Kimmel sees the difficult sides of life; such as, animal torture, a gambling dad, poverty, and a lecherous teacher, but she is able to take it in stride and reason it all out. She shows the attitude that life happens, and there’s never anything to get too excited about.

The unusual Mooreland, Indiana, residents make Zippy’s life that much more colorful. Imagine reading about the letter carrier who only delivers mail he approves of, the grumpy drugstore owner and the old woman across the street who tried to kill Zippy when she was a baby. They all help give Mooreland a unique quirkiness. And what about the family next door, who relishes abusing animals? Zippy’s description brings to mind the bullies of everyone’s past.

As someone who grew up in a rural area, I can relate to Zippy as she shows her dad letting her play a card game her own way and her surprise in someone having shopped in a store thirty miles away. Her tongue-in-cheek humor is shown when her sister tells Zippy that she is adopted from gypsies, and her sister’s real father is the stinky garbage man. When her mom and dad both confirm the story and add their own twist to it, Zippy again accepts that life happens.

Living with the conundrum of a Quaker mom and a religion-experienced-in-the-woods-beside-a-peaceful-lake dad keeps Zippy wondering who is right, but accepts them both.

Kimmel writes a refreshing and inspiring look at the small town life of a small town girl. Her childhood reminds us to have faith in life whether we live in a rural or an urban area. Let me close with a piece of an Emerson quote that the author uses to open her memoir. It expresses the thought that regardless of whom we are or what we experience in life we all “must also soar and sing.”

Categories Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Posted on October 26, 2009

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