Book Reviews of Icy Sparks

Icy Sparks
Icy Sparks
Author: Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN-13: 9780670873111
ISBN-10: 067087311X
Publication Date: 7/1/1998
Pages: 320
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 29

3.5 stars, based on 29 ratings
Publisher: Viking Adult
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

114 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 14
As a first novel about growing up poor, orphaned, and prone to fits in a small Appalachian town, Icy Sparks tells a fascinating story. By the time the epilogue rolls around, Icy has prevailed over her disorder and become a therapist: "Children silent as stone sing for me. Children who cannot speak create music for me." For readers familiar with this particular brand of coming-of-age novel--affliction fiction?--Icy's triumph should come as no great surprise. That's one problem. Another is Rubio's tendency to lapse into overheated prose: this is a novel in which the characters would sooner yell, pout, whine, moan, or sass a sentence than simply say it. But the real drawback to Icy Sparks is that some of the characters--especially the bad ones--are drawn with very broad strokes indeed, and the moral principles tend to be equally elementary: embrace your difference, none of us is alone, and so on. When Icy gets saved at a tent revival, even Jesus takes on the accents of a self-help guru: "You must love yourself!" With insights like these, this is one Southern novel that's more Wally Lamb than Harper Lee.
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Helpful Score: 11
Ick. I agree with a previous reviewer about my disappointment at her religious awakening at the end of the book. I got the feeling she knew what she wanted to end with all along and tried to make it fit. The ending overshadowed what was a fair book, but at times too cute and contrived. Would not read again nor recommend.
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Helpful Score: 9
This book was great until the last ten pages or so when the main character gets "saved" and all of her problems are solved because she accepts Jesus. It was a cheap ending to what was an otherwise an enjoyable book. The ending actually made me angry enough to throw the book in the trash which is something I would never usually do.
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Helpful Score: 6
This book was a great look into the misunderstanding of metal illness in decades past. Icy Sparks, the main character in this story, is one of the unfortune people to have to endure criticism, punishment, ridicule and the other personal tortures of mental illness.

This book is an easy read and worth your time for at least the education that can be reaped from the paged of this story.
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Helpful Score: 5
This books is set in rural Kentucky in the 50's and is about a ten year old girl, Icy Sparks. She is an orphan who lives with her grandparents and has Toerette's Syndrome (spelling?) where one has the uncontrollable urge to curse aloud. Her childhood is filled with shame and humiliation...but Icy finds solace in Miss Emily, an obese woman who is also an outkast.

This is an unforgetable book overspilling with hope, the imperfections we all live with. I love books that are in the Southern female voice...this book will not disappoint!
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Helpful Score: 2
A friend of mine mailed this to me because she liked it so much. I knew it was an Oprah book, but I went in figuring I'd give it a try. I found it ridiculous. Even the serious parts left me stifling a giggle. You ever watch Barney? You know, the purple dinosaur? It was like those kids... they were all over-acting. This book is over-written. It's too much, it's too "big"... I finished it and while I felt for the main character, I couldn't get over the over-writing. Not my style.
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Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed this book. I had some of the same issues with the religious overtones that other reviewers complained about, but they didn't overshadow the aspects that I liked. Anyone who grew up struggling with a poorly understood mental or neurological condition or learning disorder will identify with Icy. It reads like a memoir. The author either really did her research or has some personal connection with Tourettes Syndrome. She has really captured the damaging feelings of confusion and isolation that result from going through your formative years labeled as strange, stupid, a troublemaker over actions which you have little control over.
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Helpful Score: 2
Icy Sparks is a great read, and one of Oprah's Book Club selections. It was interesting to see how Icy's grandparents handled her illness without a lot of support and knowledge. Icy is a true heroine in the end.
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Helpful Score: 2
There's something different about Icy but no one including Icy knows what it is. A girl deals with a psychological disorder the only way she knows how, long before a diagnosis is even coined. I loved her courage and spirit and was sad the book ended so quickly.
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Helpful Score: 1
Not my usual genre, but I couldn't put it down. Reading about this girls life before anything was known about Tourette Syndrom was a real eye opener. I came away from this book with more tolerance of others with differences, which is always a good thing.
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Helpful Score: 1
It was a good story. I've laid off the Oprah books, I was finding them so sad. But this was a good one. Icy was a strong gal. I also liked the character of Miss Emily. This was a really interesting story.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was an interesting book about a young girl growing up in 1950's rural Kentucky with a disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and cursing. Tourette's syndrome. Funny, sad and troubling...but engrossing.
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Helpful Score: 1
Sweet story about a girl who just wanted to be happy and fit in, in a world that didn't quite understand her.
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Helpful Score: 1
an enjoyable look at a young girls coping with tourettes syndrome
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Helpful Score: 1
The book was based on a good idea, and some of the passages were engaging, but one thing really took me out of the story; the girls' name. Not only is it ridiculous, but the author was clearly in love with it, and not more than a page passed without her using it in some capacity. Every sentence spoken directly to the girl used her name, more often than not her full name. Nearly 300 pages of "Icy Sparks, listen to me." and "Icy Gal, you amaze me!" and "Icy Sparks don't lie!", I couldn't wait for the book to be over. And calling her grandparent Matani and Patani seemed unnecessary, like the book was trying too hard to make the characters memorable. It is not a book I will ever read again.
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Helpful Score: 1
Enjoyed it.
reviewed Icy Sparks on + 35 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great book. I absolutely loved it.
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Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed most of this book, but the last couple of chapters went downhill quickly. I did not like how everything turned to religion in the end. Icy was a very likeable character and I wanted to know more about what was done for her diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome, if anything.
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Helpful Score: 1
A funny, sad and transcendent story of a young girl's growing up in Appalachia. The story centers around Icy Sparks, a 10 year old orphan who lives with her grandparents. She has violent tics and uncontrollable cursing which is not diagnose until adulthood. The book recounts a girl's journey to womanhood and the lives she touches along the way.
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didn't read
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This book made me feel like I could read Icy's mind and really understand her and relate to her. I highly recomend it.
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The diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome isn't mentioned until the last pages of Rubio's sensitive portrayal of a young girl with the disease. Instead, Rubio lets Icy Sparks tell her own story of growing up during the 1950s in a small Kentucky town where her uncontrollable outbursts make her an object of fright and scorn. "The Saturday after my [10th] birthday, the eye blinking and poppings began.... I could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain and attached to the back of my head," says Icy, who thinks of herself as the "frog child from Icy Creek." Orphaned and cared for by her loving grandparents, Icy weathers the taunts of a mean schoolteacher and, later, a crush on a boy that ends in disappointment. But she also finds real friendship with the enormously fat Miss Emily, who offers kindness and camaraderie. Rubio captures Icy's feelings of isolation and brings poignancy and drama to Icy's childhood experiences, to her temporary confinement in a mental institution and to her reluctant introduction?thanks to Miss Emily and Icy's grandmother?to the Pentecostal church through which she discovers her singing talent. If Rubio sometimes loses track of Icy's voice, indulges in unconvincing magical realism and takes unearned poetic license with the speech of her Appalachian grandparents ("'Your skin was as cold as fresh springwater, slippery and strangely soothing to touch'"), her first novel is remarkable for its often funny portrayal of a child's fears, loves and struggles with an affliction she doesn't know isn't her fault.
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Story about a ten year old girl living in rural Kentucky in the 1950's.
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Loved this book!
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COuldn't get with this one....
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Rural Kentucky in the 1950s Icy Sparks is an orphan who begins to have violent tics and uncontrollable cursing and eventually meets someone whom she finds solace in
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Icy Sparks is a very touching novel that brings forth feelings of love, laughter, and sadness.
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Like this. Oprah picks good books.
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A novel about social 'outcast" finding their place in the world. Warm and humorous.
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Story of a child suffering from Tourette Syndrome, a neurologic disorder that causes a person to jerk, croak, tic, shout profanities at innapropriate times. It is an excellent description of the disease, and a really well-written story of a child lost in the world of misunderstanding adults. Icy is a treat.
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Great book from Oprah's Book Club!
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You fall in love with Icy and go through all her trials with her. Go, Icy, go!
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Icy Sparks, an orphan being raised by her grandparents, suffers from Tourette Syndrome, although that is not known until she is grown. She is mocked by children in school, a teacher and community members. Great description and exploration of emotions. Interesting story.
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Very good, heart warming book about a child with Tourette's Syndrome, back when no one knew what it was, and everyone just thought she was a weird, misbehaving, outcast. I enjoyed it!
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Icy Sparks is a book about growing up different. It does a great job of describing small town rural life with the attitudes and acceptance or not of differences. The view that Icy had of her world and the perspective that the author adhered to of letting you see only her view, without always explaining was wonderful. I was extremely disappointed in the end which seemed to just neatly wrap up the book in a bow using a very thin resolution - not satisfying at all to me...
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Love it!!
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very cute book, enjoyed it, had its ups and downs as far as the story goes, but this book was great. I'm glad I found it.
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This book gives good insight into what it was like to grow up with a mental health disorder that no one understood.
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I'm sorry to say the story felt forced and the ending was irritating. The author leads you astray with inept foreshadowing that goes nowhere. Reading this book was like going through one of those dreadful, overpriced "funhouses" at a carnival and finding out that the reason you keep coming to dead ends is that the exit is also the entrance.
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I just couldn't get into this book. I read about 70 pages then gave up - I found it exceedingly simple and boring. Not at all recommended - two thumbs down.
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I can't imagine the research that must have gone into writing this book. I loved it.
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This book is one of my favorites. I read it several years ago and ordered it again so my daughter could read it. It's about a young girl with Tourette's syndrome and how she deals with her affliction. Very positive and informative.
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A New York Times Notable Book and an Oprah's book Club book, but I never got around to reading it! Perhaps someone else would enjoy it.
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This is a marvelous story of the difficulties of a young woman's growth into maturity. She has a disorder which goes undiagnosed until she reaches adulthood. The author's deftly written storyline makes her characters somewhat endearing and certainly very interesting. The main character, Icy Sparks, is actually telling her story. If one has figured out the diseasement that Icy has, it is described in the epilogue. It can be very debillitating, but there are ways of handling the disorder. I found this book to be an excellent read!
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I didn't want it to end.
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Really engaging character. Moral: accept who you are and your unique gifts.
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I read icy sparks a while ago, so this is what I remember.

I loved the book. I was delayed at a train station for 2 hours but did not care because I had this book. I found the book to be very touching, parts I cried. I think it was excellently written and the more I read the more I was drawn in.

It was a book where I felt like I knew the characters.
reviewed Icy Sparks on
This is a keenly distressing story about a young girl suffering from an undiagnosed disease and how she progresses from childhood to her teenage years while desperately trying to hide her idiosyncrasies from everyone around her, albeit in vain.
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A fantastically written look at a young girl in "old south" who is "different". Really shows how people with disabilities and small differences were treated like outsiders, and makes you think about how this hasn't changed too too much! Written from the perspective of Icy, who is in her early adolescense through most of the story; however, she is a witty, insightful, intelligent child who weaves a great story! I couldn't put it down!
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Very well-written and engaging story..couldnt' put it down
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Oprah pick.
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Rural Kentucky in the 1950s is not an easy place to grow up, and it's especially hard for ten-year-old Icy Sparks, an orphan who lives with her grandparents. Life becomes even more difficult for Icy when violent tics and uncontrollable cursing begin- symptoms brought on by a troubling affliction that goes undiagnosed until her adult hood. Icy's adolescence is marred by the humiliation of her illness, and its all-too-visible signs are the source of endless mystery and hilarity as everyone around her offers an opinion about what's troubling the girl. Eventually, Icy finds solace in the company of Miss Emily, an obese woman who knows what it's like to be an outcast in this tightly knit community. Narrated by a now-grown Icy, this novel shimmers with warmth and humor as it recounts a young girl's painful and poignant journey to womanhood- and the many lives she touches and enriched along the way.
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Very good book, can be depressing, but is a real acct. of a little girl's life.
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Oprah's Book Club (back cover): Rural Kentucky in the 1950s is not an easy place to grow up, and it's especially hard for ten year old Icy Sparks, an orphan who lives with her grandparents. Life becomes even more difficult for Icy when violent tics and uncontrollable cursing begin - symptoms brought on by a troubling affliction that goes undiagnosed until her adulthood."
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interesting perspective on a child with Tourette's syndrome....I am a special education teacher and thought this was quite insightful
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Wonderful story about a girl with Tourettes (not diagnosed in "those days"). Ending was a bit dull and uneventful, but I did enjoy the book as a whole.
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Unforgettable!
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This book was enjoyable, but not memorable. Common to Oprah's book club, it's about the downtrodden... Icy is from Appalachia, orphaned, and has a condition she cannot control.
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OPRAH BOOK CLUB
CHILLING
CHILD ABUSE
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I read it awhile ago, but it was a great story about a girl with Tourette Syndrome. You are able to look inside another world of someone else and understand more of where they are coming from and how they live life.
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this was a Oprah book club edition. It is funny and sad, the story of a ophan girl brought up by her grandmother. Icy Sparks has violent tics and uncontrollable cursing spells which no one diagnosis till she becomes a adult. She becomes a outcast because of this affliction, because the community doesn't understand this strange disease. very gripping.
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...makes you wonder what ailments we are mistreating or misunderstanding now in our day and age...
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I really loved this book, and the main character.
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This is set in rural Kentucky in the 1950s. It is about a 10 year old girl named Icy Sparks who is an orphan that lives with his grandparents. He is afflicted with violent tics and uncontrollable cursing. She befriends another outcast.. an obese woman by the name of Emily. It recounts a young girl's painful and poignant journey to womanhood.
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Great story but a litle slow in places.
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"A funny, sad and transcendent story of a young girl's growing up in Appalachia that introduces a fresh, quirky new Southern voice."
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Oprah Book-Story about young girl growning up in '50's with then undiagnosed Tourette's Syndrome. Endless mystery and hilarity as everyone in rural KY offers an opinion about wha't wrong with Icy.
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Oprah's book club!!
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Probably my favorite of the Oprah Book Club selections.

Icy Sparks is a ten-year-old orphan who lives with her grandparents in rural 1950's Kentucky. She is a wonderfully spunky girl who is afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome, which goes undiagnosed. This book is both funny and sad, often at the same time. The characters are beautifully created and the writing is superb.
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Excellent Book. Part of Oprah's book club. Must read!
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Story was good and you really get to know the characters.
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I read this one a long time ago but remember it being really good. It is the first story (fiction) that I have come across that discusses what it is like to have tourettes syndrome.
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Pretty good. It was very engrossing and I found myself wanting to pick it up again after putting it down. I liked the author's writing style and I became very attached to the characters. There were a few loose ends, and a couple of disappointing turn outs. I really liked the first part, the second part was okay, and I didn't care much for the third part, but that is actually pretty consistent with trilogies for me, personally. I thought I was going to want to reread this one, but now that it's over, I think once will be plenty.
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I really liked this book. You have to be in the right frame of mind to read it, it is very moving.
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Oprah's Book Club
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Unique styling and a compelling use of emotional language.
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A good humourous,heart tugging book
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The sad story of a young girl growing up in Appalachia. A selection of Oprah's Book Club.
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Very good book. I truly enjoyed the story of a girl that didn't seem to fit in anywhere.
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The story of a girl in Appalachia suffering from undiagnosed tourrette's syndrome in the early 50's. Sometimes serious and heartbreaking, sometimes hilariously funny. I found myslef laughing out loud several times along with Icy as her "attacks" brought different reactions from different people.
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Another good Oprah pick.
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A wonderful book. One of the best I read recently. It reminded me of To kill a mockingbird. I actually bought myself a copy because it's the kind of book I want to keep in my library.
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This is a Oprah's book club book. Good book
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Rural Kentucky in the 1950s is not an easy place to grow up, and it's especially hard for ten-year-old Icy sparks, an orphan who lives with her grandparents. Life becomes even more difficult for Icy when violent tics and uncontrollable cursing begin-symptoms brought on by a troubling affliction that goes undiagnosed until her adulthood.
This book was a Oprah's book club selection.
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Oprah's book club selection. About an little girl living in rural Kentucky in the 1950's.
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quirky - I never considered what it may feel like to have tourettes from the inside...
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Oprah's Book Club book
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Part of Oprah's book club. Interesting story but it moves a bit too slow for me.
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Some of the descriptive passages get a bit dull. Found myself skipping paragraphs. Great insight into the mind of a child with a disability.
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I enjoyed almost the entire book. The ending was disappointing though, only because I felt it to be contrived and a complete change of direction from the rest of the book. Overall a good story though.
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Another great "Oprah" book.
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Sweet, touching, interesting story. Great character study and the characters were far from predictable.
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I was very dissapointed with this book, I had an aunt with Tourettes and therefore thought it would give a little insight into the way it feels to be afflicted with this illness. It did to a degree, but the book was very contrived, too wordy and the ending a bit ridiculous.It was not well written and I felt like it was a waste of my time. I keep saying I wont read any more books recommended by Oprah since they seem to often dissapoint me- this is another example of her selections, they are often depressing and not very well written.
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Good book. Not a favorite.
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OM THE PUBLISHER
A New York Times Notable Book and the March 2001 selection of Oprah's Book Club®!
Icy Sparks is the sad, funny and transcendent tale of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950's. Gwyn Hyman Rubio's beautifully written first novel revolves around Icy Sparks, an unforgettable heroine in the tradition of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or Will Treed in Cold Sassy Tree. At the age of ten, Icy, a bright, curious child orphaned as a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, begins to have strange experiences. Try as she might, her "secrets"verbal croaks, groans, and physical spasmskeep afflicting her. As an adult, she will find out she has Tourette's Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, but for years her behavior is the source of mystery, confusion, and deep humiliation.

Narrated by a grown up Icy, the book chronicles a difficult, but ultimately hilarious and heartwarming journey, from her first spasms to her self-acceptance as a young woman. Curious about life beyond the hills, talented, and energetic, Icy learns to cut through all barriersphysical, mental, and spiritualin order to find community and acceptance.

Along her journey, Icy faces the jeers of her classmates as well as the malevolence of her often-ignorant teachersincluding Mrs. Stilton, one of the most evil fourth grade teachers ever created by a writer. Called willful by her teachers and "Frog Child" by her schoolmates, she is exiled from the schoolroom and sent to a children's asylum where it is hoped that the roots of her mysterious behavior can be discovered. Here Icy learns aboutdifferenceher own and those who are even more scarred than she. Yet, it isn't until Icy returns home that she really begins to flower, especially through her friendship with the eccentric and obese Miss Emily, who knows first-hand how it feels to be an outcast in this tightly knit Appalachian community. Under Miss Emily's tutelage, Icy learns about life's struggles and rewards, survives her first comical and heartbreaking misadventure with romance, discovers the healing power of her voice when she sings, and ultimatelytakes her first steps back into the world.
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From Publishers Weekly
The diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome isn't mentioned until the last pages of Rubio's sensitive portrayal of a young girl with the disease. Instead, Rubio lets Icy Sparks tell her own story of growing up during the 1950s in a small Kentucky town where her uncontrollable outbursts make her an object of fright and scorn. "The Saturday after my [10th] birthday, the eye blinking and poppings began.... I could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain and attached to the back of my head," says Icy, who thinks of herself as the "frog child from Icy Creek." Orphaned and cared for by her loving grandparents, Icy weathers the taunts of a mean schoolteacher and, later, a crush on a boy that ends in disappointment. But she also finds real friendship with the enormously fat Miss Emily, who offers kindness and camaraderie. Rubio captures Icy's feelings of isolation and brings poignancy and drama to Icy's childhood experiences, to her temporary confinement in a mental institution and to her reluctant introduction?thanks to Miss Emily and Icy's grandmother?to the Pentecostal church through which she discovers her singing talent. If Rubio sometimes loses track of Icy's voice, indulges in unconvincing magical realism and takes unearned poetic license with the speech of her Appalachian grandparents ("'Your skin was as cold as fresh springwater, slippery and strangely soothing to touch'"), her first novel is remarkable for its often funny portrayal of a child's fears, loves and struggles with an affliction she doesn't know isn't her fault. Agent, Susan Golomb; editor, Jane von Mehren.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I really enjoyed this book. Miss Icy Sparks is a force to be reckoned with. With all her battles, she was able to overcome it all.
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A young girl in rural Kentucky has a rough time growing up with a disability. She is misunderstood ,ostrasized and kept away from her family. Her one friend Miss Elmily, is her solace through much heartship . She is finally diagnoised in college.
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RURAL KENTUCKY, GIRL WITH TOURETTES
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Decent read.
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great read... really heart wrenching and funny at times... loved the "pluck" in the main character...
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an o.k. story
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Interesting story of the deep south.
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Loved this book - very good read.
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a funny story of a young girl growing up in the south
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From Publishers Weekly
The diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome isn't mentioned until the last pages of Rubio's sensitive portrayal of a young girl with the disease. Instead, Rubio lets Icy Sparks tell her own story of growing up during the 1950s in a small Kentucky town where her uncontrollable outbursts make her an object of fright and scorn. "The Saturday after my [10th] birthday, the eye blinking and poppings began.... I could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain and attached to the back of my head," says Icy, who thinks of herself as the "frog child from Icy Creek." Orphaned and cared for by her loving grandparents, Icy weathers the taunts of a mean schoolteacher and, later, a crush on a boy that ends in disappointment. But she also finds real friendship with the enormously fat Miss Emily, who offers kindness and camaraderie. Rubio captures Icy's feelings of isolation and brings poignancy and drama to Icy's childhood experiences, to her temporary confinement in a mental institution and to her reluctant introduction?thanks to Miss Emily and Icy's grandmother?to the Pentecostal church through which she discovers her singing talent. If Rubio sometimes loses track of Icy's voice, indulges in unconvincing magical realism and takes unearned poetic license with the speech of her Appalachian grandparents ("'Your skin was as cold as fresh springwater, slippery and strangely soothing to touch'"), her first novel is remarkable for its often funny portrayal of a child's fears, loves and struggles with an affliction she doesn't know isn't her fault. Agent, Susan Golomb; editor, Jane von Mehren.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Classically southern and complex, but it works.
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I actually picked this book up by accident from a book swap. So glad I did. Loved it.
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Wonderful!
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Liked this one, loved some of it, could have done without some of it as well. I felt a bit manipulated at the very end by the religious business, but overall, I enjoyed the read.
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Oprah's Book Club book
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Wondrous reading, a combination of emotional fire and ice that will take your breath away.
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I highly recommend this book. I read it some time ago, so I can't go into specifics right now but I did thoroughly enjoy this read.
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A book about a girl who is growing up different, in a time when different gets you sent to an asylum. Inspirational story to remind us all that there are people who can be kind and good and life can be hard for everyone in different ways. Quick read!