This the tale of a young girl and her siblings immersed in the maelstrom of a family that unstitches at the seams. It is about dealing with poverty, about dealing with the imperfections of those entrusted to care for you, and about proving yourself by fighting, not only against the things without, but also against those that lurk within.
The book is engaging and well written. This is a memoir, and the author tells it like it is, both the good and the bad. She does not sugarcoat the shortcomings of the members of her family. I was particularly impressed by the contrast that Ingrid draws between the passages depicting the asphyxiating environment of the family home, where a an excessively devout mother permits the stepfather to employ religion as a means of control, and those describing the freedom that the author experiences when she is on the road selling tools with her dad. Reading the latter passages you actually feel the crisp cool morning air on your face as you drive down the highway with Willie Nelson on the radio singing "On the Road Again."
I agree with her father when he asks rhetorically, "This is the life, isn't it?" while relaxing in a motel room drinking sugar-free Doctor Pepper after a hard day's work. Indeed, nothing beats being your own boss, doing things your way, and making your own rules. But alas, while when you live on the edge and get the thrills, you also get the spills. In that sense Hippie Boy is also a tale of growing up and realizing you can't depend on others. You need to find your own way and your own voice, something Ingrid Ricks has achieved. This is her story.
Be it for curiosity, inspiration, entertainment, or to learn the life-lessons of "the road" I recommend you read Hippie Boy.