She Got Up Off the Couch is Haven Kimmel's sequel to the memoir A Girl Named Zippy, and it brings us back to small-town Indiana of the 1970s and the quirky kid she once was. Couch begins where Zippy ends – with her mother riding off on a bike to pursue an education – so the girl is a little older, a little more self-aware and aware of the adult world around her.
While Kimmel calls Zippy an homage to tiny Mooreland, Indiana, she says about She Got Up Off the Couch: "This is a love letter ... most of all to the woman who stood up, brushed away the pork rind crumbs, and escaped by the skin of her teeth. It is a letter to all such women, wherever they may be."
Like A Girl Named Zippy, this is a collection of essays rather than a linear narrative, and like Zippy, this book focuses on the child's perspective. Kimmel's explanation of how she came to write these anecdotes explains what makes them so perfect as an audiobook – she wrote them to amuse her sister and mother, and would phone them to read the stories aloud in her child's voice and intonations, bringing out the comedic in the mundane and the melancholy. She Got Up Off the Couch is read by the author, and any other reading is unimaginable.
However, while still describing the funny and sweet characters that populate her beloved little town, this book is darker than A Girl Named Zippy, with more direct references to the poverty and tensions in the family, and the neglect Zippy suffered, without bitterness or blame.
Kimmel doesn't so much write about her mother as write around her mother. Though many of the essays don't mention Delonda at all and centre on the misadventures of the reckless and headstrong Zippy, the focus always comes back to this woman who, later than many women, but just in time for her own sanity, took charge of her own life.
She describes a woman with unrealized potential, who gave up a chance at a higher education and a different life to marry at a young age a man who wasn't who she thought he was. Kimmel never uses the word depressed, but it's obvious Delonda Jarvis can't get up off the couch because she's weighted down with depression of the life she's found herself in, with a gambling, unsupportive husband in a chaotic household with occasionally running water and no central heating that she's embarrassed to open up to her friends.