Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story

By Ingrid Ricks
Publisher:RC Strategies Group, (10/14/2011)

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (6 Clubie's ratings)

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What would you do if your Mormon stepfather pinned you down and tried to cast Satan out of you? For thirteen-year-old Ingrid, the answer is simple: RUN.

For years Ingrid has begged her free-wheeling dad to let her join him on the road as a tool-selling vagabond to escape the suffocating poverty and religion at home. When her devout Mormon mother married Earl―a homeless Vietnam vet who exploits the religion's male-dominated culture to oppress and abuse her family―she finally gets her wish. Ingrid spends the next few summers living on the margins while hustling tools with her dad and his slimy, revolving sales crew. He becomes her lifeline and escape from Earl. But when he's arrested, she learns the lesson that will change her life: she can't look to others to save her; she has to save herself.
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Sthall's thoughts on "Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
updated on:1/27/2012


Laura Novak's thoughts on "Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
updated on:1/20/2012

Once I started, I could not put this book down. Ingrid Ricks might have been a plucky young girl from a troubled home at one time, but now she is a razor sharp writer with a heck of a story to tell. And tell it she does with guts, gusto, precision, and great style.

Hers is not an easy story to absorb:  brutal and creepy step-father, errant and erratic father, depressed and too religious mother. Yet Ingrid Ricks storms through the trouble these adults cause, or at least don't avoid, to become a formidable survivor of religious and domestic wars.

The context for the book is the now, very current Mormon religion. But at its root is a family in distress and dysfunction and a young girl with enough moxie to survive just about anything.

Go on the road with Ingrid, see how she struggles, then soars. This is a marvelous memoir for any young person struggling with their life, or any adult who has been there and back.  A true page turner that should be taught in every American high school.  Brava dear author!


Marjie Bowker's thoughts on "Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
updated on:1/20/2012

I read Hippie Boy in two days and have since shared it with approximately 60 people - 40 of whom are my high school students (I teach at an alternative school for at-risk teens). I was so happy to find a coming-of-age book with a strong female voice and a positive, powerful message and just knew my students would connect with it strongly. I've been able to test my theory with a class set of books over the past two weeks, and my intuition was right times one hundred...my students are crazy about it. There are so many parts where they stop reading and say, "NO WAY!!" in response to what happens. It has fostered great classroom discussions about parental power, religious suffocation and finding strength from within to face challenges.
One 18-year old student who has never liked reading could not put it down. "This book is bomb," he told me softly after reading it through his math class (that teacher wasn't pleased). It is very accessible, easy to read, in the moment and you feel you are experiencing Ingrid's struggles along with her because she so clearly describes her emotional state throughout the events that occur.  I have also given it to many of my friends (aged 30+..my mom's review is on here also), and they all love it, too. There is something in Hippie Boy for everyone, it seems. A great story, very well-told.


Carol B.'s thoughts on "Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
updated on:1/20/2012

Hippie Boy, A Girl's Story is a gripping book about a teen's survival.  Ingrid Ricks tells her story of growing up in a difficult family situation without a "poor me" attitude.  You find yourself hating Earl, her stepfather; becoming frustrated with her mother, who loves Ingrid, but doesn't have the courage to go against Earl; and cheering Ingrid, who's strength and determination knows no bounds.  I read this book in one day and then thought about it for weeks.  I highly recommend it.


Suzero's thoughts on "Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
updated on:1/20/2012

Being a kid can scare the living crap out of a person.

In Ingrid Ricks' powerful memoir HIPPIE BOY, the adults in her childhood provide an environment that burdens the children with fear, acute asthma, religious tyranny, shifted responsibility, and devastating insecurity. The good news is: what Ricks suffered did make her stronger and hopefully her parents, who supported her retelling of their stories, learned untold lessons from their child as a result.

The author is the daughter of mismatched Mormon parents. Her mother's faith makes her run to the sect's bishops for answers and her father's earns him banishment for failing to live by Mormon tenets.

But this is not a book about being Mormon so much as the story of a kid forced to become an adult because the grown-ups around her aren't up to the task.

Ricks' father, a sales' man who called his daughter HIPPIE BOY and thereby named her memoir, is a man with a gift of gab and also the central force of Ricks' life and her driven motivation. Jerry Ricks is, at heart, a good man who stretches the limits of truth, honor and the American Way. He appears to be ignorant of Ingrid's utter devotion to his every move, though he frequently brings her on his business trips pitching low-quality tools, high-fallutin' dreams, and tall-tale stories about the women he meets along the way.

Ingrid's mother, however, is the "before" implied in the adage: When you know better, you do better. She is a woman who fought and scratched her way to maturity under the burden of the paternalistic demands of her Mormon faith. Ricks' mother divorces Ricks' father, only to enter a church-sanctioned marriage to Earl, a man who makes the entire family - and every reader of the book - squirm.

Earl's smell is enough to make a reader gag, much less his presence as a stepfather to Ricks and her four siblings who live in fear of his threats and misdeeds. Earl tries to cast the devil out of Ingrid, but since her moral compass is set early on, it is she who helps cast this devil out of their home.

Ingrid's teenage treks across the country as a sales' assistant to her father's every whim somehow manage to take her on a ferry ride to the Northwest and her future. 

Today Ms. Ricks is a woman who has travelled the world to help its children, while nurturing a happy family of four, combatting a fearsome eye disease and giving hope on so many fronts with her powerful writing voice.


Ingrid Ricks's thoughts on "Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
updated on:1/19/2012


"Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story"
By Ingrid Ricks

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (6 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.

1. Why did Ingrid want to escape her home life? And why was she so drawn to her dad, even though he continually let her down?

2. How did the failed trip to Mississippi serve as a foreshadowing for the rest of the book?

3. What role did the Mormon Church play in Ingrid’s life vs. the people who were in her life? Was it the Church doctrine or the people enforcing the doctrine that led to the problems Ingrid experienced?

4. Sometimes the worst offenders are people who have felt powerless themselves. Do you think Earl would have been abusive if he hadn’t been so down and out?

5. What kind of man was Jerry Ricks? What were his strengths and weaknesses, his flaws and contradictions?

6. Though the strong bond between Ingrid and her dad is a central theme in Hippie Boy, there are hints that Jerry Ricks wanted a relationship with his other children and yearned for their approval and love. Why do you think he was unable to establish the same relationship with Ingrid’s siblings?

7. Discuss Ingrid’s mother. How do you think her childhood shaped her decisions as an adult and her need to be guided by religion?

8. Why do you think Ingrid’s mom stayed in the relationship with Earl even when she knew the marriage was having a devastating impact on her children? Have you ever felt trapped in a situation? Were you able to get out of it? If so, how?

9. Did you feel sympathy for Ingrid’s dad? What about for her mom? Could you relate with her need to have someone else make the decisions for her?

10. Discuss Ingrid’s relationship with her sister, Connie. What impact did Connie have on Ingrid’s life?

11. Describe Connie. How did she cope with the situation at home? Does her strength come through early on in the story?

12. Other than Connie, there is very little mention of Ingrid’s siblings throughout the book. Ingrid mentions in the story that she had very little interaction with her siblings even though they lived under the same roof. Why do you think this was? Discuss the relationship you had with your siblings growing up. What is your relationship like with your siblings now?

13. Why do you think Ingrid, as a child, so readily identified with her dad and was willing to forgive his faults and shortcomings?

14. Discuss Ingrid’s relationships with her mom. Why do you think Ingrid was less forgiving of her mom, even though she was the parent who stayed behind and took on the sole financial responsibility of raising Ingrid and her siblings?

15. What character traits -- both good and bad -- do you think that Ingrid inherited from her parents? And how do you think those traits shaped Ingrid's life?

16. Do you think Ingrid had any inkling of the implications of her dad’s “creative financing” techniques?

17. How did her dad’s arrest serve as a turning point for Ingrid?

18. What would you have done had you been in the same situation as Ingrid?

19. How did Ingrid change throughout the story?

Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
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Click here to hear the interview that appeared on Mormon Expression last May


“A soft-spoken yet resounding reminder of the power plays tied to religion... Ricks’ voice is true, and her prose has a poised confidence missing from the repertoires of many established authors.” Booklist

 “Ingrid Ricks has shined a light on American Mormonism no less important than the light Kathryn Stockett shined on the degradation of black maids in "The Help." Hippie Boy" is for anyone who has ever felt left out, alone, bereft, bewildered, betrayed...in other words, everyone.” — Libby Maxey , Pastor, Tennessee

“When Ingrid describes life on the road with Dad, I was reminded of a movie I saw in the 80's staring Ryan O'Neil and his daughter Tatum O'Neil called "Paper Moon"…I would recommend this book to anyone! –Michelle C.

I gave this book to a friend of mine because I was curious if my reaction to it was normal. Why did I, a man in my forties, relate so strongly to this young girl who I had absolutely nothing in common with? Paul, in his fifties, read it in two sittings and loved it as much as I did. No matter who you are, you won't be able to put the book down until you find out if this indomitable spirit gets her night in a Holiday Inn, a promised gift from her loving but struggling father, support from her troubled mother, and freedom from her dirt bag stepfather who smells like old meat.”  –J Craig

“I chose this book because it was a good price to try out my new Kindle, and the premise seemed interesting enough. I did not expect to be totally hooked in to the story. I planned to read this book over several days of commutes, starting on Monday. I was so curious about (and concerned for!) the young protagonist that I devoted Tuesday evening to finishing the last 30% because I couldn't wait unti Wednesday morning.” – Michelle Mann

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Ingrid Ricks is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who focuses on overcoming adversity and embracing life. Her stories have been published in Salon, Ladies Home Journal, The Seattle Times and a variety of other publications.  Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story is her first book.

Find out more at: www.ingridricks.com

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