Ingrid Ricks,
Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story
(Berkeley, 2014)

Ingrid Ricks grew up in a Mormon family in Logan, Utah. It was a strict home. Her parents were divorced and her mother, a strict, almost fanatical Mormon, remarried Earl, an abusive man, whom she tolerated because the church declared that the man was the head of the household; his word was law.

For Ingrid, summers meant freedom. Those she spent with her birth father, a traveling salesman who was always waiting for his ship to come in, when it appeared to any rational person that it had been wrecked against some barrier reefs. A dreamer with the business sense of a cow, he led traveling crews who sold any product he thought he could make a buck on. Ingrid accompanied him across the Midwest, selling tools door to door, along the highway, anywhere. Too young to realize exactly how irresponsible her father was, she clung to the freedom he offered no matter how many times he crushed her heart, no matter how many promises he failed to keep.

He referred to her as Hippie Boy; hence the title of the book, which tells the story of her attempts to grow up and take control of her own life. Hippie Boy is about trying to survive not one but two dysfunctional homes. Ricks has a fine story to tell and tells it well; her book offers fine writing with a striking sense of the just right detail and sharp insights into the ways families inadvertently hurt as well as support each other. It shows how not just the protagonist but each member of the family can eventually recognize bad treatment, say "No more," and grow to be a complete person.

I recommend it.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

2 August 2014

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