Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story. Ingrid Ricks. Penguin Group (USA). January 2014. 304 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780425274002.
Ingrid Ricks has a heart-breaking story to tell. It’s about a mother so yearning to be loved and cared for that she can’t see the trouble in front of her face. First she divorces Ingrid’s father because he doesn’t buy into the Mormon religion she follows with almost fanatic intensity. Then her Mom begins dating Earl, a guy who gives the word “mean” a reality that is painful to read about, let alone what it must have been like to live with. Ingrid at first stays and does her best to ignore the fierce orders and beatings constantly inflicted on her and her siblings. Mom at first seems to accept it all as Earl uses the excuse that he prayed about whatever issue is at hand and then concludes with the “God told me….” line. Yes, it is heart-wrenching but also increasingly frightening as Earl ups his domination.
Meanwhile Ingrid’s Dad is a salesman of whatever idea he currently has in his head to “get rich quickly.” Ingrid is devoted to him, primarily because he’s a soft antidote to the Mormon tyranny in her home with its constant prayers and Scripture reading, along with the orders and physical abuse. But all is not perfect with Dad as Ingrid experiences disappointment after disappointment. She actually realizes she is often being used. Yet she still remains loyal, although now cautious, as she has no alternative plans of action.
Enough said about the family dysfunction which will increase until Ingrid becomes even stronger, with the help of good friends and some lucky breaks when her father is arrested on an embezzlement charge.
This is a memoir that MUST be shared. For it’s not just about some Mormon craziness but what happens when persons with psychological needs and dangerous behaviors inflict their illness on innocent children. To be clear, not all Mormons share these devastating traits. Any religion attracts those with mentally handicapped backgrounds and intentions; here is a prime example. But what is more frightening is the lack of any observation or intervention by a neutral party to stop behavior that must have negative repercussions because of years of living in such a terrorizing atmosphere. This reviewer didn’t like this account at all – who possibly could? However, this memoir is both an alert for those who might be near such families and a cry for action where it is so clearly warranted. One also wonders why some Mormon leaders refuse to address this issue and why desire for privacy and denial issues are more important than action and termination of such misappropriation of church doctrine. Justice is sorely in need of being served in like situations and Ingrid Ricks deserves multiple kudos for having the courage to present the truth to the larger public. Here’s to hoping this was a healing experience as well for her!