Michael's Reviews > She Got Up Off The Couch: And Other Heroic Acts From Mooreland, Indiana

She Got Up Off The Couch by Haven Kimmel
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Jan 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: all-time-favorites, memoir-biography
Read in March, 2006

This is a far darker book than Kimmel's first memoir, A Girl Named Zippy, and I loved it for that darkness, because while I'd sensed it simmering under the surface of that first book, it never quite broke through—Kimmel hewed closely to portraying her world as she felt it was when she was a young girl. And she was too young and too bright-eyed to quite put things together. So even though there were occasional questionable events, they never added up to an in-depth portrait. Kept Zippy frothy and fun and far from troubling.

The kid gloves come off in this book, however. As the author gets older, the fissures in her family we'd noted earlier begin to develop into full-on fault lines. Dad's drinking, mom's oppression, her brother's anger, and on and on—the earlier portrait of her family takes on a bleak side. Despite which the book is funny as all hell. Kimmel's love for her family comes through even when she's portraying them at their worst, and she manages to soft pedal harsh truths by approaching them from unconventional directions. You feel for all of these people, but especially for her mother, who really does get up off the couch and makes a life for herself. It's a grand, moving fight to be somebody. And thanks to mom, the memoir ends on a high note which is all the sweeter than anything in Zippy because it feels like it is earned, something fought for at a very high cost.

Not for everybody but one of my favorite books.
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