I enjoy a well written memoir from time to time especially one so entertaining that I forget I’m reading a memoir. Two books that fit this bill are as follows, A Girl Named Zippy Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana and She Got Up Off the Couch And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana both by Haven Kimmel. In her first memoir A Girl Named Zippy, Haven describes her life growing up in a small town in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. She tells stories of everyday life in such a way that even if you didn’t grow up in that particular time; such as myself growing up in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, you will still relate to the evolution of a child’s naive understanding of her small world to a broader idea of life outside herself. She tells the stories about the people in town, her siblings, and close friends. She shares how she saw her father her hero, and her mother as a constant in her place on the couch. You get the feeling from these books that ignorance can be bliss in childhood and a beautiful protection at times.
In the second memoir She Got Up Off the Couch, it is much the same in the way of delightful stories about the town of Mooreland and the people within it, but in the 1970’s Haven(Zippy) is growing up and branching out of the town limits alongside her mom, who got up off the couch and went back to school. This second book is more of a coming of age where Zippy starts to see life outside her own little world, she sees her mom’s situation on the couch and off it, as well as her dad in a new light. We hear more of her friend’s parent’s and their ‘Heroic Acts’ showing that raising a person really does take a village. She learns life lessons on how to push herself beyond what she thought she could do, her religious point of view, boys, babies, parental roles, etc. She learns these lessons from all the characters in her life: the people in town, her friends and their parents, her brother and sister, her father, and some of the most unlikely sources. I think of all the lessons though she seemed surprised to learn from (as many of us gals are surprised from, but that’s another post entirely) is of course her mother. “I went back to staring at the ceiling. With every year that passed, more and more of what that woman said made sense to me, which was flat terrifying.”
What I love most about Haven’s collections of memories is that they are honest retellings of a life genuinely lived. Haven doesn’t gloss over or romanticize harsh realities, but honestly tells them without making it seem like an expose; without anger, blame, or regret. She writes with love and respect for her family’s lives and their choices. Haven Kimmel’s memoirs are two beautifully written, funny books I highly recommend.
Have you read either or both of these books? What did you think? What feelings did you come away with? Tell me in the comments, I would love to discuss.