Against her husband's wishes, and without much moral support from a mostly oblivious young daughter, Delonda learned to drive, bought her own $200 car and found ingenious ways to keep it running, effortlessly lost the weight she had piled on in her days on the couch, earned scholarships on her way to a Master's degree, and began to teach, creating her place in a world where women had finally earned the right to do just that.
The comment about her friends' parents, who "without a sigh or complaint where I could hear it, kept me relatively clean and well-fed," is an example of Kimmel writing around the dark areas. She never complains about neglect, but it's evident, from a mother who first had little will to look after her daughter, then had other goals in her sights. Also disturbing are passages about her father trying to distance himself from Zippy as she gets too old to sit in his lap, and hints at his shadowy life and friends. Her love for her parents is evident, but so is the knowledge that they didn't provide well for their family.
But through it all is the self-deprecating humour and lack of ego that make our narrator Zippy a likeable guide through mostly funny stories that are only tinged with sadness.
"I myself have been known to wince as if stabbed with wide-bore needles when faced with yet another coming of age memoir," says Kimmel in the introduction. What makes her memoirs a welcome addition to the genre is the pure acceptance of these people she so obviously loves, and her ability to paint even the painful memories with a joy and wonder in the details of a childhood that is as specific to her family as it is indicative of a certain time in our collective social history.
The audiobook version comes unabridged on eight CDs, and is available from the HighBridge Audio website, where you can also hear a clip as read by author Haven Kimmel.