A memoirist’s account of growing up in a devout yet completely dysfunctional Mormon home.
When Ricks’ (Focus, 2012) mother married fellow Mormon Earl, a twice-divorced mechanic with a sketchy past, the author knew that things would never be the same. Cruel and controlling, Earl lived off his new wife and abused her children with impunity. The one bright spot in Ricks’ life was her affectionate but at times unreliable salesman father, Jerry, whose “need to be free” she both understood and envied. She was his favorite, the daughter he called “Hippie Boy” for her long, tangled hair; he was her hero, the man with “the golden tongue…[who] could talk his way in or out of anything.” Before Earl’s arrival, she was able to travel with Jerry from time to time to escape the oppressive environment her “religious fruitcake” mother had created at home. But afterward, those trips became a bone of contention between Ricks and Earl, who used his church-granted authority as head of household and “direct line to God” to deliberately thwart his stepdaughter’s efforts to be with her father. Ricks still managed to circumvent Earl’s tyrannical rules and spent summers working with Jerry on the road, washing up in gas-station bathrooms, sleeping in cars and living on fast food. When police arrested her father for suspected embezzlement, Ricks suddenly realized the dangerously fragile nature of Jerry’s bold but often reckless existence. Her hero was a charming sham; the only person who could save her from unhappiness was herself.
In clear, graceful prose and in a voice that is refreshingly authentic, Ricks tells an uplifting story of heartbreak, hope and self-salvation.