“A Girl Named Zippy” Review: Writing Childhood Memories
How do you go about writing your own life story? Do you stick with the dry facts or do you delve deeper into your memories? Reading how someone else has shared their stories can give you ideas on what you could write. A Girl Named Zippy, Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel is the quirky reminiscing of a small girl in a small Midwestern town.
Haven Kimmel writes of her family relationships through the perspective of a young child. The normal ups and downs of family life are depicted in humorous fashion, with hints of deeper currents. Have you procrastinated writing your memoirs because your family members were less than perfect? Reading A Girl Named Zippy, might give you ideas of how to handle memories of challenging people and situations.
The author begins the book with a “Prologue” describing the small town of Mooreland, population 300.
The book that follows is about a child from Mooreland, Indiana, written by one of the three hundred. It’s a memoir, and a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning. I no longer live there; I can’t speak for the town or its people as they are now. Someone has taken my place. Whoever she is, her stories are her own.
We view Zippy’s parents and siblings through the lens of a child who is accepting of their humanity. She writes of her mother’s endless consumption of books while sitting on the couch.
Now even though my mother almost never left the couch, she was a woman of many gifts, my favorite being her ability to make anything she was eating crunch. . . .My mother’s delicacy was a part of her character she had adamantly clung to over the years, even as her occupation of not moving from the couch softened her and made her, well, motherly. I once heard her tell a friend that she was, in fact, a 120-pound woman, but she kept herself wrapped in fat in order to prevent bruising.
Haven shares experiences about her father with her characteristic wry look at life. After a chapter on playing cards with him, the next two chapters are titled: “A Short List of Things My Father Lost Gambling” and “A Short List of Things My Father Won Gambling.” Among these are a pony, money, hunting beagles, guns, and a “strange friend named Burns.”
We are pulled into the Zippy’s world of family, school, church, friends, and neighbors. The stories are laid out without judgement and we are left to draw our own conclusions. Reading this book a second time, I marveled at how the author was able to relate sticky situations in a humorous yet poignant manner.
If you are thinking about writing your own childhood memoirs, I highly recommend reading A Girl Named Zippy first. You’ll find inspiration, laughter, and some thought-provoking stories.
Best of luck in your story telling adventures!