The # 1 New York Times bestseller A Girl Named Zippy was a rare and welcome treat: a memoir of a happy childhood. Spunky, strong-willed, and too smart for her own good, Zippy Jarvis brought readers delight and joy. In She Got Up Off the Couch, Haven Kimmel invites us to rejoin the quirky and hilarious Jarvis family saga. Zippy is growing up and struggling with both her hair and her distaste for shoes. But this memoir strikes a deeper and more emotional chord, as now Kimmel shines the spotlight on her remarkable mother, Delonda. Courageous and steadfast, Delonda finally realized that she could change her life, and she got up off the funky couch in the den, bought a beat-up flower power VW bug (and then learned to drive it), and went back to school, which gave her the chance to gain both financial independence and, at long last, self-respect.
A true pleasure for old fans and new ones alike, She Got Up Off the Couch is a gorgeous encapsulation of an innocent time when a child didn't understand that her mother was depressed or felt stifled, but just noted on her way out the door that Delonda was a fixture in the living room. Kimmel captures the seminal moments of her mother's burgeoning empowerment with the full strength of her distinctive, deft storytelling, and with the overflowing sense of humor that made A Girl Named Zippy a favorite of readers everywhere.
Kimmel's exuberant vignettes, recounting her youth in Indiana during the '70s, were made to be read aloud; most sound as though they started as funny stories told to friends. Following A Girl Named Zippy, this book features much of the same cast of characters, including her aggravating but dear sister Melinda, her great friend Julie and her eternally uncooperative hair. When her mother rouses herself from her couch and goes to college and grad school, a whole new world opens up, as well as new darkness on the home front as her father has to come to terms with his newly empowered wife. Kimmel has natural comic timing and reads at a perfect pace, imitating her characters' voices just enough to get their personality across without making it sound forced. Listeners will frequently find themselves laughing aloud as Kimmel relates her charmingly hyperbolic takes on teen rivalry at her Quaker church camp, their house's infestation by mice, her fierce love for her new nephew and her mother's adventures in learning to drive. The candid, self-deprecating humor that suffuses the anecdotes is even more striking when conveyed through Kimmel's sweet but sly voice. Even when she recalls suffering through some fancy occasion that requires her to wear shoes or being in agony after badly breaking an arm, Kimmel manages to make the situation hilarious, and the effect is even stronger in the audiobook than on the page. Simultaneous release with the Free Press hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 10). (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 26, 2005
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Excerpt from She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel
The couch in the den was the color the crayon people called Flesh even though it resembled no human or animal flesh on Planet Earth, and the couch fabric was nubbled in a pattern of diamonds. It was best to prevent the nubbles from coming into direct contact with one's real Flesh, so there was usually a blanket or a towel or clothing spread out as a buffer. Also no one wanted to pick up the blanket, the towel, and the clothing and fold them. Or even pick them up. So it was a fine arrangement.
She had a lamp, a small end table so covered with things -- layer upon layer -- that the stuff at the bottom was from a different decade than the stuff in the middle. She had a cardboard box in which she kept books from the bookmobile; her favorite afghan for emergency napping; a notebook and pen. There had been years with no telephone but mostly the telephone worked and was often near Mother's head -- often enough, in fact, that Dad referred to it as her Siamese twin. The television was only a few feet away, and there were always animals for company. Five steps in one direction was the kitchen; four steps in the other was the bathroom. In winter the den was the only room in the house with heat, so we all lived there. In summer it was so hot I feared spontaneous combustion, which Dr. Demento reported was happening to Canadian priests with regularity. I popped in and out of the den, I was a very busy person and my responsibilities were numerous which Mother understood. Dad came and went -- he also had engagements far and wide and we had long since ceased asking what they were. A man had to protect his mysteries; it was one of the primary Liberties of Manhood in our home. There were many others. My older brother, Dan, was gone to his grown-up life; my sister, Melinda, was on her way, at seventeen.
All my life there had been certain constants, facts so steady I assumed they were like trees or mountains, things you could trust to stay where you left them because they were mountains and yes the Bible says faith can move one but the Bible also says a whole lot of stuff that if you tried to make it true you'd end up in the Epileptic Village. My constants were the same as everyone else's: a house with quite a few rooms and utilities that came and went. Church three times a week. Church so frequently and which I so much couldn't get out of I considered ripping off my own fingernails in protest, or better yet someone else's fingernails. My family. And no one as dependable as my mom, burrowed into the corner of that sprung sofa cushion, reading and eating crunchy foods, the television on, the telephone ringing. We'd never said a whole lot to each other, given that I was a citizen of the world and was generally on my way out the door. But she always smiled when I passed her, gave me a wave. And when I got home, there she was.