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Icy Sparks

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3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  34,179 Ratings  ·  1,074 Reviews
Eastern Kentucky, 1956. Life is hard and sweet for ten-year-old Icy Sparks. Orphaned as a baby but raised by adoring grandparents, she is a bright, curious child. Yet something strange is happening to her, something that she'd like to keep hidden. Try as she might, her secrets--those croaks, jerks, and spasms--keep slipping out. Her teachers think she's willful, her friend ...more
Audiobook, 7 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Findaway World (first published January 1st 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeff-is
Sep 02, 2007 Jeff-is rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. I just saw the book cover, and wanted to hurl. My sister told me to read it. Thats the last recommendation she ever gave... I killed her.
Jessica
Oct 16, 2007 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i thought this book would be interesting: a little girl growing up with Tourette's in 1950s Kentucky. i was so wrong. this book does a horrible job of getting inside a child's mind and does little to show us how her doctors at the institution came to understand enough about it to finally send her home. then it gets all Jesus-freak at the end. i have no idea why this is in Oprah's book club. no sir, i didn't like it.
Anna
Sep 02, 2007 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this in high school and used it as part of my research for a paper on tourette's. "but anna," you may be thinking, "this book has a publication date of 2001, and you are 26 years old. that math doesn't compute."

yeah, well, books exist before oprah gets her hands on them. TAKE THAT, OPRAH! WHO SCOOPED YOU NOW, HUH??!?!? you think you're SOOOOOO cool with your show and your book club and your free iPods? well GUESS WHO READ THIS BOOK before you?????

anyway, i remember liking it.
Aimee
Jul 20, 2009 Aimee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I didn't care for this book. It felt like one of those that you're supposed to like to seem smart of part of a certain crowd-ie oprah's book club. I got this from a thrift store, since normally O don't read the oprah books.

Even with icy's "episodes" it was a lot of nothing that happened with a bunch of wildflower descriptions thrown in. I didn't really care about her as a character.

I was also very annoyed that I read 275+- pages then it went very "God showed me the way" in the last 20-30 pages
...more
Jen
Icy Sparks is Anne of Green Gables with Tourette Syndrome. I loved the character, but wasn't super crazy about the story.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part was kind of painful because it shows her at 10 years old first beginning to manifest Tourette's, and becoming an outcast in her community--it's the 1950's in rural Kentucky and nobody had a clue about Tourette's. I really liked the second part, which induced me to keep reading the book (saying what it's about would be a spo
...more
Mckenzie
Aug 21, 2012 Mckenzie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Several times throughout this book I asked myself why I was still reading it, and after finishing it the only answer I have is "I was bored and kept hoping it would get better". It never really did. Don't get me wrong - if it was THAT horrible, I'm sure I would've given up - but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

The premise, that of a young girl growing up in Appalachia in the 50's with Tourette's syndrome, sounded interesting and promising, but the writing is...unskilled. The dialogue ranges be
...more
Irishcoda
Jul 11, 2007 Irishcoda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Sometimes when I come to the end of a good book I feel a little sad because I've enjoyed the story so much and now it's come to an end. That's how I felt when I closed the book on Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. I'd picked up the book because it was one of Oprah's selections and the book jacket sounded interesting--a little girl with a troubling affliction grows up in 1950s Kentucky. As one growing up with deaf parents, I felt very different from the others as a child. I would be able to relate
...more
Sammy
May 29, 2007 Sammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-the-good
Good read. For the most part, this book was a very enthralling and entertaining read. The story itself and the writing both very fine. It's not a book, though, that's going to go down in history as one of my favorites, despite the fact I really did enjoy it.

The main problem I had with the book was the characters themselves. They were likeable enough, but with the exceptional of Icy, most everyone she encountered seemed 2Demensional at most, they weren't flushed out enough for my taste. I'm not s
...more
Ashley
Apr 24, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I read the back of the book cover to Adam he gave a big dramatic sigh and declared, "You read the most depressing books in the world." A book about a young girl growing up with undiagnosed Tourettes Syndrome, a story where the heroine feels completely unable to adapt to the world around her, a girl with no mother, raised by her loving but confused grandparents, a child who's only friend is a 400 pound adult, a stint in a mental hospital where the main character struggles and still remains u ...more
Laura
Mar 20, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded to 4 stars. Thought provoking but somewhat repetitive on the issues addressed. I would think this would be appropriate for a tween. First book I've ever read that character has Tourette syndrome so that was interesting.
Yzobelle
It could have been better. The build up of characters and plot was going well at the beginning. It started to decline and get all muddled up when Icy was at the institution. The characters, events, and relationships became so weak and confusing. There was no clear explanation as to what finally made them decide to send Icy home, no clear diagnosis or even a prognosis of what Icy had, and there was no resolution to Wilma's case. (The revelation of the Tourette Syndrome came at the epilogue.) The ...more
Suzanne
Aug 06, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once you read this book, you will never forget it. Whenever I see a person reading this, I tell them how good & wonderful it is. It is so,so good.
Robin
Dec 01, 2007 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Klein
Jun 25, 2014 Karen Klein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read! I picked this book up from my local library for $0.25 after briefly scanning the back cover. I thought that it would be interesting to read because my son was diagnosed with transient tic disorder (similar to Tourrettes) when he was about 4. I know that this book is fiction, but as I was reading about Icy Sparks (the main character) and how she described what she felt prior to her "fits" and extreme anger, I wondered whether or not my son felt the same way before each tic episode ...more
Gail Poag Smith
I really enjoyed this story, set in the 1950s, of a young girl with Tourette's. Of course, at that time not much was known about the syndrome and her grandparents, who were raising her, and her school officials were at at a loss to know what to do.

Narrated by the girl, Icy, she doesn't have a clue what is going on and in spite of all her efforts finds she is increasingly unable to control her actions and speech.

This story reminded me so much of an author I know who had similar experiences growin
...more
Maria
Nov 05, 2011 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ordinarily, I hate all literature, fiction, or story-telling about Appalachia. HATE. And I mean that as forcefully as the all caps implies. Silas House? So twee and building stereotypes that some of us would rather not have to fight against on a daily basis. Jesse Stuart? Please spare me.

But this book, while set in eastern Kentucky, isn't really about Appalachia. It's about a girl who happens to grow up in an isolated community, surrounded by mountains. But she's a special girl -- and she's got
...more
Marissa
Nov 14, 2007 Marissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Granted, I listened to it and the narrator was okay until the end when Icy, the main character, finds God and there is all kinds of singing. Well, the singing just about sent me over the edge. "Amazing Grace" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in a bad hillbilly accented voice was almost more than I could handle. I found myself finishing the book out of anger: "Damnit--I've lasted this long. I have to finish it." So I slogged through and finished the damned thing.

Icy is the main character, gr
...more
ehnonymus
Jul 12, 2010 ehnonymus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
by far one of the worst books i have ever read. i often snag novels from the high school library when i am bored at work and since there isn't much to choose from i picked up icy sparks, mistakenly believing that a book on the oprah book club list must have some merit (after all, books i have loved for a very long time often end up on her list- east of eden, for instance). anyway, i was instantly disappointed and i think it was only horrified disbelief that kept me going. i kept thinking that th ...more
Taylor
Jun 02, 2008 Taylor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I REALLY liked the first half of this book. The experience of a young girl with Tourrette's was fascinating and plausible. The author's poor conveyance of dialect was distracting but forgivable, mostly due to the overaching sparkle of the main character's wit. Ten-year-old Icy is precocious and interesting, if a little too perceptive and articulate to be believed.

However, her transformation upon returning home (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers) defies her character and any patience the reader m
...more
Natalie
Dec 14, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Natalie by: Ivy
One of the best pieces of odd story-telling I've read in a long time. Take a little girl in the country who's trying to fit in as best as she can. Add the fact that she has Torette's Syndrome (sp?), and you have fodder for a painfully funny yet touching comedy.

Little Icy finds comfort in the form of an adult, Miss Emily, a grossly obese woman who runs the local seed corn mill where they have tea parties with Miss Emily's cats. What you end up with is unusually unique story-telling style that is
...more
Ashley
Sep 29, 2010 Ashley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book club selection and I had the hardest time reading this book. It literally took me WEEKS to read. Ugh.
I found the author annoying and the character she created. For instance, I understand that the girl had tourettes but the way she would describe it bothered me. How does one pop out their eyes? Did she actually say the word croak or did she make a sound like a frog?
There are too many things I did not care for in this book or that I felt the author did a good job writing on and I
...more
Anna
I did not like this as well as I thought I should have. The characters are interesting and complete people both the bad and the good. The story is involving. Perhaps it is because I didn't really like Icy and that left me feeling ambivalent about it.
Debbie
Mar 05, 2008 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hill kid in 50s Kentucky with Tourette's syndrome. Gotta figure this will have some lessons in it somewhere! Is that a twitch or just a southern church service?? :-)
Michele Fay
Mar 16, 2017 Michele Fay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost a five star, I would say. What is it about southern writers? And why do I love to read books that have poverty stricken, Appalachian settings? I don't know, but this one has an interesting slant, as it focuses on a girl with Tourette's Syndrome, that does not get diagnosed until she is grown. Throw that on top of poverty, and you get, well...you'll see.
Dawn
Jul 09, 2008 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
3.5 STARS

"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 "secre
...more
Patrice Sartor
Overall, I was disappointed. While most of Oprah's book club books are depressing in some way, I still usually like them. That's probably why I kept going until the end, even though the story felt slow at times.

Icy Sparks suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, though she doesn't know it, and the people in her small town just figure she's crazy. Part of the time I believed Icy was a 10 year old girl with some issues. Other times I questioned whether a 10 year old girl really would think that deeply ab
...more
Tabitha Vohn
May 18, 2015 Tabitha Vohn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sisterhood, high-brow
This was my Oprah Book Club summer read and my Vaca read this year. And it was everything I hoped it would be.

I feel as though I don't know what original insight I can offer, given that this novel has over one thousand written reviews. I can tell you that it's an honest, human story with an uplifting message of perseverance, compassion, and the transformative power of love at its core.

The cast of this story is endearingly warm. Icy herself captured my heart immediately and I felt that her inna
...more
Lois
Sep 24, 2016 Lois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in rural Kentucky in the 1950's, Icy Sparks is soon orphaned and raised by her mother's parents. By the time that she starts school she is having to go into the ice house to have "fits." In this setting there are only a few people who reach out to connect with a young girl who is so different from others while the bulk of the population shuns her.
Icy's undiagnosed Tourette's Syndrome shapes her life in unpredictable ways. Rubio does a great job of putting the reader into the head of a young
...more
Liz
Aug 05, 2011 Liz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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2350
Gwyn Hyman Rubio (born August 7, 1949 in Macon, Georgia) is an American author, best known for her novel Icy Sparks.

Rubio graduated from Florida State University in 1971 with a degree in English. She then joined the Peace Corps and spent several years working as a teacher in Costa Rica. After returning to the U.S. and settling in Kentucky she became interested in writing, ultimately receiving a Ma
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“I eyed her and shrugged my shoulders, wondering how on earth she thought this meal was good, but her wafer-thin body gave her away; not once in her life had she eaten good-tasting food.” 0 likes
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