When Ingrid Ricks' parents divorced, her devout Mormon mother married an abusive creep who made home the last place Ingrid would ever want to be. Her father was a traveling salesman, always chasing down a dream, and when he invited Ingrid to join him on the road for the summer, she jumped at the chance. When their summer plans went sideways, Ingrid was forced to rely on herself for stability and grow up before she finished high school. Hippie Boy chronicles her abbreviated childhood among adults who had their own share of growing up to do.
Hippie Boy—the title was an affectionate nickname bestowed by Ricks' father, on account of her long, tangled hair—was a best-selling self-published eBook, and deservedly so. Ricks is tough but fair when it comes to describing her family, and her frank honesty lets readers see past any failures to the love that ultimately unites them. Her mother endures a terrible second marriage because she simply doesn't want to be the one in charge of things, but flourishes in every way once she finally throws the bum out. Her father bends the truth when it suits him (“Dad was special that way. He could talk his way out of anything.”) and is flaky and inconsistent, but keeps his word to Ingrid in one crucial instance that shows his good heart clearly. And stepfather Earl? Well, let's just say it's a relief when he gets his walking papers.
Hippie Boy juxtaposes the stifling confines of an abusive and oppressively religious home with the thrill of the open road and its anonymous motels and rest stops. It's a story of family unity and a declaration of independence in one, and a keen, clear-eyed take on both. Fans of Haven Kimmel and Mary Karr should welcome Ricks warmly as a new, distinct voice in memoirs.