Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story is a young girl’s coming of age story showing her struggles as she grows up with a religious fanatic mother, a step-father she can’t stand and the man she idealizes – her father.
Ingrid has always had an idealized view of her father. He has always been her freedom from her mother who is ruled by her blind faith to her religion to the point she can’t see the harm she is doing to herself and her family. Even after her parents are divorced, Ingrid escapes with her traveling salesman father every summer and does her best to support his dreams to become a self-made millionaire. When Ingrid’s mother marries Earl, life at home is filled with “tension and depression” and Ingrid’s father becomes even more important to her, despite his faults and the fact that Ingrid’s acknowledges that “a familiar voice inside me was screaming, berating me for needing and loving him so much.” But Ingrid’s father symbolizes freedom and his promise to provide his children with cars when they turn 16 years old instead of paying child support is a physical manifestation of this freedom that he gives his children. It is not until Ingrid’s father teaches her how to drive that she gets her own sense of independent freedom. And, with this freedom and independence comes perspective and a slow disillusionment and realization of her father’s flaws.
Though the story deals with some difficult topics such as dysfunctional families, author, Ingrid Ricks has created a compelling character in Ingrid, who in spite of all her turmoil manages to maintain her optimism and faith in life. Ricks also effectively captures the struggle of the other female characters, revealing how they are transformed when they are released from the situations that oppress them. Ingrid’s mother, once away from her “nightmarish struggle” with Earl, becomes a new woman – tired but happy. Once Connie has her car and can physically leave the household she tells Ingrid: “It was like this crushing weight I had lived with for so long was just suddenly gone. I felt so free. And so happy.” The growth and transformation of these three women is contrasted with that of Ingrid’s father, who Ingrid finally realizes is not the independent, brilliant and insightful man she believed him to be.
Ricks’ writing is powerful and evocative. Her detailed and revealing descriptions get to the core of her characters and the story, for example with the opening line of the story: “I should have slammed the door in Earl’s face.” Also, her confrontation with Earl unleashes a side of Ingrid that had been buried:
“The phone crashed to the ground just as Earl’s fist connected with my stomach. His punch was like fuel, stoking the hate burning through my body. I felt my fingers curl into tight fists and swing back at him, four years of rage packed inside them.”
Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story is a moving and inspiring story of a teenage girl who is rises above the constraints of her oppressive family life.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader