Ingrid Ricks’ “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story” is an autobiographical account of one girl’s experience with religion and divorce in Southern America in the 70s and 80s. Told with great sensitivity and yet a poignant sense of truth, Ricks presents a story that is very relevant to modern teen audiences.
Told from her own perspective, Ricks reveals the anguish she faced through her parents’ divorce and her mother’s subsequent remarriage. The reader cannot help but feel sympathetic for Ingrid and her sense of impotence in the toxic situation comes through Ricks’ prose very clearly. Ricks provides relevant details and keeps her story concise so that it reads as a narrative rather than a memoir.
Ricks has presented her characters as larger than life. Her own personality comes across as endearing and likable. I could not help but sympathise with Ingrid and relate to the highs and lows of her adolescence. From the very beginning, Earl is particularly loathsome. Whether Ricks’ description of him is purely subjective or not seems to be irrelevant and he does become a character that one lives to hate. Ingrid’s mother seems to epitomise mothers who try to do the right thing by both their children and their religion and become hopelessly conflicted. On the other hand, Ingrid’s flaky father is idolised and becomes Ingrid’s escape from her torturous home life.
Set in Southern America in the 70s and 80s, Ricks brings to life the openness of the southern states. From Mississippi to Utah and Texas, Ricks adequately describes each house, trailer and motel room. The irony of Ingrid preferring to sleep in the back of a car rather than the dilapidated house that she loathes constantly reinforces the anguish she faces at home.
I definitely recommend “Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story”. As I read, I felt that it is very suited to a teen audience. Ricks’ story highlights the impotence that teens experience as they balance on the precipice between childhood and the autonomy of adulthood. Teens from any walk of life can relate to “Hippie Boy”. Those who do struggle at home can take away a sense of hope and perhaps take steps to better their own situation.
I gave the book 3 stars. It was a lovely read!