Friday Reads: "A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel

It's Friday! Time for another installment of "Scenes from Kathryn's bookshelf" (otherwise known as Friday Reads). I realized earlier this week that I've read only Young Adult novels so far this year, so I thought it might be time to switch things up. My friend Cassie recently loaned me A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel, which I'd had recommended to me many times and had never read. I started it on Wednesday, and I'm so glad I did!

Zippy, plus my morning coffee

A Girl Named Zippy is a memoir of Kimmel's childhood in a tiny town in Indiana, mostly set in the 1970s. While the descriptions of small-town life are touching and amusing, what I'm really loving about this book is Kimmel's voice. She captures so perfectly the concerns and worries and joys and frustrations of her childhood self. The voice makes the scenes she's remembering come alive. You can absolutely hear how every member of her family sounds, how her various friends and enemies sound, and how Kimmel herself viewed the world as a child. As a reader, you care about even the smallest, oddest things, because "Zippy" (Kimmel's nickname as a child, because of how fast she ran) cares immensely about them.

And it's funny! There's the chapter where Zippy's older sister convinces her she was adopted—and her mom confirms it, telling her about the time she traded a bottomless velvet bag to buy Zippy from traveling gypsies. Zippy believes it hook, line, and sinker. And then there's the chapter where, in order to get back at a crotchety neighbor who complains about Zippy's family's two dogs barking, Zippy's dad somehow gets everyone in town to bring their crated dogs to his property for the night—and sits a caged raccoon down right in the middle of things. The chaos that ensues, and the neighbor's response in the morning, are just so perfect.

Reading this book is reminding me how much I enjoy a well-written, entertaining memoir. I haven't read one in a while; I took a literature class in grad school called "The Uses of Memory" in which we read a lot of memoirs and fiction dealing with the idea of memory, and that's probably the last time (spring 2009) I really dug into the memoir genre. So, I'm taking recommendations! Have you read a memoir lately that you've just loved? It doesn't have to be funny, although funny helps. :) Tell me about it in the comments!