After 20 years of burrowing into the corner of the family couch, eating junk food, and reading science fiction, Indiana mother Delonda Jarvis did something that shocked her family: She went to college. Or as her youngest daughter, Haven Kimmel, writes, she "stood up, brushed away the pork rind crumbs, and escaped by the skin of her teeth."
Despite having no money, no car, and a resentful husband, Delonda managed to obtain a master's degree in English. The former teenage bride also dropped 100 lbs., learned how to drive, and became the breadwinner in a way that her husband had never been inclined. But as she reclaimed herself, her marriage disintegrated.
"She Got Up Off the Couch," returns to the small-town life that made Kimmel's childhood memoir, "A Girl Named Zippy," a bestseller. But this less-sunny sequel looks more tellingly at things that were glossed over in the first book. Zippy's father, for example, is hardly the hero she worship\ed as a young girl. And the dirt and disorder the tomboy gloried in has a darker reason: After decades married to a gambler, Delonda had given up. Kimmel never indulges in bitterness, but by the end a reader will be in no doubt about the Kilimanjaro of obstacles her mother scaled on her way off that couch. Grade: A-