A Girl Named Zippy

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Several years ago, possibly even before I joined a book club, I picked up this book at Walmart largely for the purpose of stuffing my own Christmas stocking to keep up the appearance of Santa for my young child. I'd heard about the book and really intended to read it but it sat on my shelf for a few years. Then one day I organized all my books and decided it would be suitable for a book club read so I moved it to the "future reads for book club" shelf. Since I only host once or twice a year I really don't make much progress on that shelf. Anyway, everything finally aligned and now we are reading the book. Another lady in book club had the book on her shelf too. The cover I have shows that it was part of "Today's Book Club" which I'm guessing is the Today Show on television.

On a scale of 1 - 5:

Sex: 1

Religion: 4

Gruesome: 1

Suspense: 1

Morality: 3

Sex - suggestion of a teacher behaving in appropriately with a student

Religion - family (except for father) attends Quaker church regularly, families of friends are Catholic and a "Holiness convert". Many anecdotes occur in church or regarding religion. There is a mini-Easter lesson on pgs. 242 - 243.

Gruesome - one incident of vomiting

Suspense - it's all light reading, no suspense at all

Morality - there are anecdotes of trying to do good and make the right choices and there are also times when we see passive acceptance of the absence of morality. Overall it is balanced, or tipped slightly more towards morality.

This is a very enjoyable book for easy reading, well seasoned with bits of humor. I was a little surprised that the chapters were not chronological. It's not a deal-breaker by any means, but it is a little odd when Dana moves away in one chapter and then several chapters later is mentioned casually as one of her classmates.

Discussion Questions

Was there anything you felt was left out from all the anecdotes?

Would you have preferred the chapters occur chronologically? How did the random order of chapters affect the overall story?

Baby Book (p. 5)

Haven was close to death and was saved by antibiotics. Did this miracle speak to you? Have you had any miraculous experiences?

Were you surprised at her starting to talk at the campfire regarding the bottle?

Hair (p. 10)

Haven remembered her wig and slippers like they were magical. What magical items do you remember?

The Lion (p. 14)

What were your early career aspirations?

Qualities of Light, or Disasters Involving Animals (p. 17)

What habits of your kids have caused you to snap and behave "like a deranged cow"?

If Heaven is scratch and sniff, what will you want to smell?

Daniel (p. 40)

Tell of a time when you provoked a sibling - or were provoked.

What unspoken lessons did the parents teach Daniel and Melinda regarding the door?

Blood of the Lamb (p. 51)

Mr. Jarvis said Batsell Barrett Baxter was "born dead" He called things as he saw them. What commentary do you recall from your dad?

Haven used "tricks" of lost shoes or Bibles to delay going to church. What tricks did you do as a child?

Unexpected Injuries (p. 61)

Who was the Petey Scroggs of your childhood?

Favors for Friends (p. 83) & Haunted Houses (p. 91)

These chapters refer to the phrases "slicker than snot on a doorknob" and "got my goat". What phrases intrigued you as a child?

Haunted Houses (p. 91)

Were their any creepy houses or scary neighbors where you grew up?

Did you ever have any misguided adoption ideas?

What store owners, like Doc Holiday, do you remember?

Professionals (p. 114)

What did you want to be when you grew up?

The World of Ideas (p. 134)

When you were a kid what did you see as the role of parents? (ref. p. 140, last paragraph)

Diner (p. 167)

Did you climb trees when you were young? Tell about a favorite tree.

Share your best throw-up story.

Slumber Party (p. 173)

This chapter begins with a quote from Albert Einstein, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Which way do you see things?

ESP (p. 188)

Did you or do you believe in ESP?

Interior Design (p. 192)

What were your favorite 70's crafts?

Did you have a favorite Avon bottle?

Cemetery (p. 201)

Describe your childhood bike.

Have you ever "thrown down a fleece" (like the Abraham Lincoln commercial). How did it work out for you?

Drift Away (p. 211)

What are your memories of sibling torture?

How were you influenced by your siblings musical choices? Or did you influence them?

Arisen (p. 235)

Were you a dress up or dress down kid?

The Social Gospel (p. 245)

Why did Haven not tell Sissy about the good deed she did by staying for Rose's private lesson?

The Letter (p. 262)

Did you think Haven would get her Christmas wish?

Many of the books we read have Book Club guides at the end. I make it a practice of creating my questions as I am reading and do not look at the guide until after I am done. Sometimes I come up with the same questions but usually I find the guides are very pretentious. Most of the questions I wouldn't be able to ask with a straight face. Maybe there are other book groups that take their discussions a bit more seriously but my group is more, as alluded to in one book I read recently (maybe Wedding Survivor by Julia London), book club is just a cover story for women to get together and drink wine. We do talk about the book, but we enjoy the food, beverages, company and side-tracked discussion just as much.

ANYWAY, I did especially like Question 8 from the Guide so I share it here:

"Numerous memoirs have been published that expose deeply painful childhoods. Haven Kimmel alludes to a few dark aspects of life in Mooreland, such as poverty, a lecherous teacher, and her father's gambling problem. How do Zippy's coping skills compare to those of other children you've read about?" (p. 281)

Theme Ideas

Serve lollipops like Telly Savalas. Serve Greek food in tribute to Mr. Savalas.

Serve popcorn like Haven's mom was eating on the sofa when Haven confronted her about being adopted. (p. 97) and when Haven listed the things her mom was good at (p. 137).

Serve lemon phosphates like Haven gets at the drug store. (p. 98 & p. 224)

Distribute Avon lipstick samples. (p. 119)

Serve cinnamon biscuits (p. 137) like Haven's mom was good at making.

Serve "large-pearl tapioca" like Mildred's idea of dessert. (p. 139)

Serve homemade french fries, fried mushrooms and freezing cold cokes like at Julie's birthday party. (p. 160)

Serve carrots like Haven ate when she was alone and hungry. Also serve Sugar Cream Pie like her mom gave her at the diner after she threw-up the carrots. (p. 171)

Decorate with 1971 fish lights and play euchre. (p. 177)


Give copies of St. Veronica's Handkerchief. (p. 184)

Do ceramics or paint by numbers or a craft project from the Interior Design chapter (p. 192). Maybe a pet rock or God's Eye, although not specifically mentioned in the book they were popular in the 70s and would be easy and inexpensive to do.

Hang an American flag over the window. (p. 197) Hang a copy of the Dogs Playing Poker poster.

Serve raisins and applesauce cake. (p. 203)

Serve hominy (Haven's preference over wearing a dress). (p. 238)

Serve coffee and sweet rolls like they ate after Sunrise service. (p. 244)

Decorate with baskets of lilies (p. 242) or purple crocus (p. 244).

Serve chicken and noodles, smooshy peas, rice with brown sugar, white bread, butter, and cartons of milk. (pgs. 246 - 247) OR hamburger, fried potatoes, creamed corn, cling peaches (p. 260).

Go caroling. (p. 263)

Serve pork rinds like her mother ate on the sofa when she was depressed. (p. 265)

Decorate with or play the game "Life". (p. 266)

Serve eggnog from a crystal bowl with crystal cups like at the Christmas Eve party (p. 268). Also serve goose liver, oranges and nuts. (On a personal note I have used this eggnog recipe for several years and my family really enjoys it.)