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on October 5, 2011
It is strange to be transported back in time to something that seems so familiar yet so completely different than my own experience. The author and I appear to be the same age, though we grew up in different areas with different religions. But I felt so connected to her character's growing pains, the need to fit in a family that didn't quite understand her, and knowing that her family was different than most because of the "higher law" they followed in their church.

Her father's magnetism comes through in an almost tangible way, and I can almost feel the wind in my hair and my own 13-year-old legs sticking to the vinyl seat of a truck on a summer day hanging out with my own dad. It is a father/daughter story, a difficult mother/daughter story, a story about making your own destiny, and a story about persevering in the face of almost overwhelming odds. It is the story of a broken family, which is common to many of us, and how the pieces reattach in interesting ways. I hope Ingrid Ricks writes more about both her mother and her father in the future.

When she writes about being the secret lost daughter of the Osmond family I could relate. What one of us as a teenager didn't want to be part of a famous family where we could forget the troubles and angst that plagued our junior high selves?

Hippie Boy brought me back to the Judy Blume books of my teenage years, though it is still a very grownup story. In fact, I felt a lot of compassion for the mother, who is consumed by religious fervor and can't seem to get any comfort from following her faith (I'm not religious or a mother, by the way). Even Earl, the evil stepfather who only eats meat (and smells bad because of it), is oddly compelling. How did he get to be this way? He reminds me of some men I knew growing up in a Baptist church in New Mexico, and now I want to know how they became that way.

If you like coming-of-age stories, tales about complicated but loving relationships between fathers and daughters, or relating to a child who knows she is different but can't do anything about it until she is grown, then this is the book for you. I really enjoyed this (and completely abandoned my to-do list for a day and a half to read it through).
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VINE VOICEon December 18, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the true story of author Ingrid Ricks because--with her mastery of the English language--she brings her family to life. A dysfunctional family, to be sure, and the poor little girl is forced to grow up before her time... Lucky for her, she was born an independent spirit and definitely knows right from wrong, so she copes admirably. A heart-breaking, heart-warming reality...

The title Hippie Boy threw me off and I kept waiting for a "hippie boy" to enter Ingrid's life and change its directions. But not so! Not to spoil the storyline, but "Hippie Boy" turns out to be a term of endearment her father calls her. And when readers delve into this remarkable, bittersweet story, it quickly becomes apparent that she's not a true hippie, but she does possess a core belief set revolving around the values of peace and love.

As a young girl, Ingrid has to deal with the authoritarian, outdated principles espoused by her devoted Mormon mother; a religion that ultimately causes her non-Mormon father to leave home. Ingrid adores her charming, wandering father and she's his favorite child. He doesn't come home often, but when he does, Ingrid clings to him for some stability.

Things go from bad to worse when her mother marries Earl, a homeless Vietnam veteran who exploits the religion's male-dominated culture by abusing her family. This only makes Ingrid depend more on her father's infrequent visits, and she eventually gets her wish to join him for summers on the road, helping him sell tools. She most often stays behind to protect her siblings, but for two summers she manages to travel with her father.

What does Earl do to abuse the family? Why does Ingrid want to run? And when she finally gets to go with her father, how does she handle this new pace of life? What kind of "hustler" does she prove to be? How does she save her father's "skin" more often than not? Is it the child leading the adult...or what? What does she do when her father gets arrested? And why does he get arrested?

But most important, what valuable lessons does Ingrid learn that help her find her way to a happy future? Does she follow her father's adage: "If it's to be, it's up to me."?

This talented writer answers those questions and more in this first-person narrative written from the young girl's viewpoint. She's great at pacing, plot, dialogue and has a refreshing voice; so much so, that she kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to satisfactory ending.

Even though my heart went out mostly to Ingrid, I liked her father too. Despite his short-comings, he cared for his family. I found it a little harder to forgive the mother--after what she allows Earl to do--but when I realized she was a victim of the culture pounded into her by her Mormon up-bringing, in the end I felt for her, also.

This story tugged at my heart-strings because the characters were made real to me. I couldn't get Ingrid out of my mind long after finishing this sad, but fascinating true story... Her independent spirit that knew enough to set her own pace and find the right answers is inspiring.

This is an awesome debut novel; Ingrid Ricks should have a secure future in the literary world. Just as she shines a bright light on the cruel practices of Mormonism, this book now casts her in a happier spotlight. Today Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story is Number One in Kindle Memoirs. Can't wait until she comes out with another book... Write fast, Ingrid!

Reviewed by Betty Dravis, December 18, 2011
Author of "1106 Grand Boulevard"
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on February 3, 2012
The reviewers who point out that this family is dysfunctional & that this type of spiritual abuse is not exclusive to any one belief system were spot on. I find it interesting that the author's way out reflected two of the central tenets of the Mormon belief system: self-reliance & asking God if what they have been taught is 'of man' or 'of God'--to know for themselves. Since the author's parents were violating the teachings of their own religion, we can fairly ask: "Were they 'Mormon' or had they invented their own brand of religion?" -a therapist in Utah.
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on January 19, 2012
Ingrid's story is amazing. The circumstances of her family, its eventual disintegration, and the lives of the adults in charge is staggering. But most amazing of all is Ingrid's ability to remain strong, upbeat, and positive about the future, in the midst of crushing poverty, loving but self-absorbed parents, and siblings who were all somewhat distant, each surviving in his or her own way. Ingrid was bounced back and forth between her traveling salesman father, who used her as a sales partner and organizer, and her mother and siblings and frightening step-father who was ruling the house with an iron Mormon hand. But "home" was with mom, and Ingrid threw herself into schoolwork and extra-curricular activities to stay out of the house and suck some joy out of childhood.

After high school graduation, Ingrid's dreams of being saved by someone else (the Osmonds; her father) were over. She received the car that her father promised, one of the only promises he ever kept. The car, more than transportation, was a symbol of the freedom that she finally found within. In the end, Ingrid admitted that she would somehow manage to go to college.

This is the quintessential story of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps." Ingrid's determination and strength got her through a traumatic childhood full of pain and disappointment without sacrificing her ability to love, without losing her innate humanity.

Hippie Boy is well written, and the flow is perfect.

The title of Hippie Boy a Girl's Story was misleading to me -- I really was afraid it was about a hitchhiking transvestite! But the charming author asked me to review the book for The Kindle Book Review website ([...] and I accepted the challenge. For the record, while I received a kindle version of this book for free in order to review it, I am not affiliated in any way with either the author or the publisher.

-- Java Davis (The Kindle Book Review)
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on October 3, 2011
I hate to admit that I am a wee bit behind the latest technology trends, but I am. Reading a book on my laptop's Kindle Ap is still a little new for me. I have found the need to take many breaks and give my eyes a rest from the screen. But with Ingrid Rick's Hippie Boy, that was not an option.

I started reading Hippie Boy almost as soon as I downloaded it on Saturday night (October 1st) and I was finished by Sunday afternoon. This book is that compelling. Ingrid's storytelling is tight and engaging; I found myself drawn in to the action so quickly. I was immediately invested in this story. I rooted for the young girl as she faced poverty and abuse at the hands of her stepfather and an unfair religious system. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, without question. Readers of all kinds are bound to find something resonating in this story. It's that good.
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I was fortunate enough to pick up A Little Book of Mormon stories, the autobiographical stories of Ingrid Ricks, a few months ago. Because I enjoyed those so much, the author forwarded me her book Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story.

This wonderful book is also autobiographical-- and I can't deny that a lot of the power in this novel is that this is Ingrid's true story. We are introduced to her family-- her mother that is struggling to make ends meet, her father who Ingrid worships as a child but then grows to realize over time that he's not as perfect as she once thought, her sister Connie, who is probably my favorite of the bunch, who teaches Ingrid the power of freedom and making things happen. Earl, her stepfather, is undeniably the evil character in the piece, and while reading, I was shocked that she had to live through such times.

I felt so satisfied reading this book. It has all the essential elements of a good YA book. We have a protagonist who is flawed, mostly just from being young and impressionable. This is the perfect example of a untrustworthy narrator-- she adores her father, but it becomes quickly apparent to the reader that he has a lot of issues and is not as perfect as she thinks. That said, she grows over time and realizes these things for herself. We see the young Ingrid change and grow, stand up for herself, and become the woman she is today.

There are some reviews that say Ricks puts down the Mormon church. I don't see that at all. She had bad experiences with bad people (there are bad people in every religion, race, walk of life), but she also had good experiences with good people, and she wrote about those as well.

It takes great bravery to put your life out there for everyone to see. This novel is strong in ways her short stories (though enjoyable) could never be, and is a powerful testament of converting harsh circumstances into a way to help other young people in tough situations. This is a wonderful book, and well worth reading.
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on October 5, 2011
Hippy Boy is the story of a girl whose life is so brutally unsettled, so depressingly fractured that it's any wonder at all that she survives.

But it is also perfection. Not just because it is a book full of hope that offers a narrative arc that sooths and satisfies, but because this book in Ingrid Ricks' hands, is a triumph of spirit and a beautiful work of art.

This memoir is ripe for success because it is readable for men and women who have survived rough upbringings and kids who are suffocating there now. The story flashes forward and back giving just enough background into the Mormon lifestyle that ties down Ingrid's mom into a series of disastrous marriages that are sure to doom her five children.

Ingrid's dad takes to the road, escaping a hellish home life, while creating just enough confusion and uncertainty to keep a relationship exciting and brewing with his favorite, tomboyish daughter. The scenes are drawn with such specificity that you can feel the hot car leather on your legs, the nervous ache in your heart and the pit in the stomach that says nothing is safe or right.

The writing is crisp, clear, and achingly poignant. And Ingrid gives new meaning to the words "plucky heroine." The final sentences in the book left me in tears. Ingrid Ricks begins to soar just at the same time most teens do. The weight of poverty, dysfunction, religious mania and unreliable parenting don't get the best of her. Indeed, her drive and determination to survive and live a wonderful life shine through in this fabulous memoir she has published here.

Brava, brave author. Your survival and your ability to capture your life on paper, is a gift to all of us.
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on January 30, 2012
Catchy cover - when I saw it on my Kindle...I had forgotten downloading it. But the cover grabbed me one afternoon when I was bored to tears waiting for my son's bus. And then I couldn't put it down. I wasn't expecting such a great story...and so mild.

For some reason I was expecting a really twisted, out there tale. But it was fairly vanilla. Which is good, I think teens on up can enjoy this book. Even with nothing really terrible happening, it holds your interest. Ingrid is a great story teller. I think that this being a memoir helps. To be fair I thought this was fiction when I read it. I didn't realize it was true until I read the Author Notes at the end.

It's a story about a girl and her Mormon family. Her mom is just about insane about church, while her father (who was raised Mormon) is excommunicated. When her mom remarries, the man is about as appealing as anthrax. He eats nothing but meat, which along with his lack of bathing (I'm assuming) leads to a very, very bad smell. Plus he's a leach, a jerk and just generally creepy.

My heart breaks for her because, really, neither parent treats her like she is worth much. Her dad is her hero, and she loves spending her summers traveling around with him. During the school year she lives with her mom and her stinky step-dad, plus 2 sisters (1 older and 1 younger) and 2 younger brothers. The timeline goes from when she is 9 yrs old until 17, and it really is a coming of age tale.

It's not free anymore, but it's only $1.99 for the Kindle - not bad, right? Ingrid Ricks does a great job weaving this tale of her childhood/teenage years.
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on February 9, 2012
This author's 1st book is a well done memoir. Great job at bringing the reader into the story with realistic descriptive writing. Her connection and devotion to her father was heart rendering. This book kept my interest right up to the end. I was a little sad when I finished the last page and wanted more. Will definately consider other books by Ingrid.
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on May 1, 2012
Ingrid Ricks' memoir describes children that have tragically won the trifecta of bad parenting.

Her mother is obsessed with her religion, and for much of the important formative years of her children is a weak, needy woman with too much pride and too little backbone. She seems unable or unwilling to defend her children from the violent outbursts both her husbands terrorized the family with.

Ingrid's father, who she adores, is an absentee father who manipulates and uses Ingrid - his Hippie Boy. His failure to provide for his family subjects them to humiliating poverty and his unpredictable and violent temper frightens the family on occasion. After delivering one-too-many disappointments Ingrid's parents divorce.

And then Earl enters their lives. Earl is an enormously unappealing and brutish emotional and physical abuser who takes advantage of every situation he can. He turns his new wife into a virtual slave and emotionally abuses her and her children with what he perceives are his male dominant rights.

One facet of Ingrid's childhood stands out over and again for me: she was a child that was forced to become an adult far too soon in her life. Sadly this is not at all uncommon, however Ingrid had to care take both of her parents as well as her siblings. She was an exceptionally perceptive child who regrettably was denied her voice along with her needs.

She does mention the religion she was raised to follow, but I did not get the impression she blamed the Church for the hardships she and her family suffered. She does mention specific individuals in the Church that were in no way helpful to her or her family but she also makes mention of those that were. Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story is not an ad hominem attack on the Church despite what several reviewers have stated, it is an honest portrayal of her life,

Luckily for the at-risk children I recently learned she is working with she found her voice and is using that knowledge to help young people find their voices and value as well.

Ingrid Ricks is not only a survivor but a success as well.
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