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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Interesting and thoughtful story about a golden haired little girl who croak, cusses and jerks.
This is not a fast paced story and does seem slow and dull in spots, you tend to find yourself wanting a bit more information or story to happen.
Lots of great dialogue and solid friendships and family. That was refreshing to see. You hope for the best for Icy Sparks.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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."
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...
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.
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.
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.
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!