Picks and Pans Review: She Got Up Off the Couch

updated 01/09/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Haven Kimmel

Readers left wondering what became of the endearing, peculiar residents of Mooreland, Ind., after the conclusion of Kimmel's breakout memoir, A Girl Named Zippy, will be delighted to learn they continued to lead lives of ordinary wonder. In this beguiling sequel, Kimmel wisecracks her way from third through eighth grade, a period during which she hones to exquisite perfection her powers of observation, her self- deprecating wit and her benevolent view of everyone but herself. During that same stretch, her mother, Delonda, finally rises from her corner of the family's flesh-colored sofa, reclaiming the academic promise she jettisoned when she married at 16. Delonda enters college, then the workforce, earning an emancipation that includes her own checking account. As in Zippy, the perspective is off-kilter, and the humor a little whacked. Of history class, Kimmel writes, “There was a possibility our teacher was legally insane, and so my respect for him was unwavering.” But there's a poignant edge, too, as Zippy, left alone by her brother's departure, her sister's marriage, her mother's career and her father's well, who knows what Bob Jarvis is up to now anxiously and comically puzzles her way through adolescence.

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