Mooreland, Indiana, Haven Kimmel's hometown, had around 300 residents when she was born in 1965. Her father nicknamed her Zippy because of the way she zipped around, and although Kimmel did not speak until the age of three, she continually observed and took in the world around her. Hers was the world of the small-town Midwest, a place that seemed very simple and very complicated at the same time.

Many of the anecdotes in A Girl Named Zippy resonate within the tradition of American memoir, focusing on Kimmel's loved ones. Readers learn about her family, including her best cat, PeeDink. Neighbors play a large role as well, and number among them an older lady who wears the same dress for 23 days by Zippy's count and scares her because, as she tells her friend Julie,

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