I read Kimmel’s first memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana during one of my annual girls’ trips to Mexico a couple years back. While taking in the sun, tasty margaritas and enjoying the simple things, I was enamored with this quirky small-town girl and her cleverly down-home way with words. She made childhood in a town of just 300 (THAT’S small!) a bit romantic. Living where everyone knows your name (forget that they all know your business, too) and where life seems less complicated or harried than that of the big city. I found her book utterly delightful, as did the friends with whom I shared it.

After that first book, Kimmel’s mother, Delonda, became as popular or intriguing as Zippy herself. One to sit firmly planted on the family couch, surrounded by books or knitting, Delonda did nothing much more than that – parenting from old, upholstered sofa cushions. Kimmel was repeatedly asked, “So did your mother ever get up off the couch?” And, so, a follow up was born.

SHE GOT UP OFF THE COUCH is really a story of Delonda Jarvis and her transformation from couch potato to college graduate at 40 (much to her husband’s disbelief), told from Zippy’s childhood perspective. It covers a time of significant change in the Jarvis household, when Zippy’s beloved brother marries and moves away, her sister starts her own family, and Delonda steps out of her comfort zone to go after her own dreams. It’s a time when Zippy begins to see her parents no longer as superheroes, but human and just as capable of achieving greatness as they are of falling from it.

Kimmel weaves her stories with both compassion and humor that left me laughing out loud and pausing for reflection. One of my favorite passages involved Delonda’s recent acquaintance with a foul-mouthed friend, “Big Fat Bonnie” a woman who would play a small but significant part in Delonda’s newfound independence:
“Well, I’ll be &*@! if I can’t teach you how to drive, and I will, too, you can bet your &*@!” Bonnie was saying. “No man would keep ME from driving a car, forget it! What is this, a Turkish prison? What do you do all day, just sit around watching the %*#^TV?!”
Mom blushed, but also looked a bit sheepish, then noticed me. “Bonnie, this is my daughter.”
I just continued to stand frozen in the doorway. I wanted to raise my hand and wave, but I was afraid I’d break the spell and miss a whole stream of good swears.
It’s clear that Kimmel has immense respect for her mother and the journey she took off the couch and into the classroom. Following her dreams, however late in life she did, largely influenced Kimmel herself to go after her own as a writer. Interestingly enough, her memoirs were never intended to be published, just documentation of her family for her family.

Fortunately, she too did what may not have been expected of her and shared them with all of us.

Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 336