Book review: 'Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story' chronicles journey through difficult childhood

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 11 2014 12:00 p.m. MST

"HIPPIE BOY: A Girl's Story," by Ingrid Ricks, Berkley Trade Paperback, $15, 292 pages (nf)

Ingrid Ricks, a Logan native and author of the new memoir “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story,” did not have an easy or carefree childhood.

In her book, Ingrid’s father, a traveling salesman constantly on the lookout for a way to get rich, only occasionally graces the family with visits while her mother, a hyper-religious member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, force-feeds doctrine to the children, filling the home with what Ingrid says was an oppressive air of distorted righteousness.

When her parents finally choose to divorce, life begins to feel loving instead of ominous.

However, everything plummets when Ingrid’s mother enters a desperate marriage to a man named Earl. Authoritarian and controlling, Earl demands strict obedience and respect from the children and their mother. His tyrannical influence chokes out any happiness the family was beginning to find.

The need for escape launches Ingrid into summer road trips with her father. While he is cheerful and lighthearted, life with him brings its own oppression. Scraping by to live from sale to sale and thrust into the path of many unsavory situations, Ingrid discovers that the father she idolized is not the flawless man she thought he was.

Pinned between two imperfect worlds, Ingrid is left to find the strength to overcome in the only place she can — within herself.

“Hippie Boy” is an emotional journey along the path of an unpleasant upbringing. Because neither parent is particularly inviting, the reader is left to feel nothing but pity and sympathy for the children in the story.

Ricks paints her mother as an overbearing religious fanatic who trusts the word of the local bishop above all else. The author is less than positive about her dealings with the LDS Church, but she makes it clear that it is her mother’s suffocating version of the religion that was most distressing.

Other than a couple of marked out swear words, the language is clean and there isn't any descriped violence or sexual scenes.

Ricks' father’s dubious morality is laid out plainly but not graphically. His rare appearances and lack of financial support are portrayed as problems, yet he is left standing in a more heroic light than the mother. Ricks' constant puppylike dedication to her dissolute father brings another pitiable facet to the tale.

This story reads almost as a novel even though it is an autobiographical account. Ricks' strength to overcome despite desperate odds will likely inspire readers with a desire to do the same.

If you go ...

What: Ingrid Ricks book signing

When: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m.

Where: Weller Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City

Web: samwellers.com, ingridricks.com

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children and lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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