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Icy Sparks

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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  28,913 ratings  ·  928 reviews
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 orph ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 8th 2001 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1998)
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Oprah's Book Club Picks
39th out of 75 books — 1,228 voters
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Best Books of the Decade: 2000s
324th out of 4,956 books — 24,397 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeff-is
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.
Anna
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.
Jessica
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.
Aimee
Jan 26, 2014 Aimee rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Irishcoda


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
Mckenzie
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
Sammy
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
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
Suzanne
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.
Karen Klein
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
Maria
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
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
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
Robin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natalie
Dec 14, 2008 Natalie rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Debbie
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?? :-)
Kris
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
Dawn
Jul 16, 2008 Dawn rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marissa
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
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
George
LAME. VERY LAME.

"Yessir, I was about to get wilder than a March hare in mating season."—page 182

'Icy Sparks' is such a terrific name. For a person and for a novel. Too bad the story of the novel, ICY SPARKS, by Gwyn Hyman Rubio, is so terribly lame, and its vapidity compounded by a touch of the distastefully crude.

Recommendation: I regret wasting my time. Surely you deserve better.

"You've made your blister." ... "Now sit on it."—page 240

Adobe Digital ( ePub) Edition, 300 pages
Taylor
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
Tami
A story about a young girl in the 1950's who suffers from Tourette Syndrome and her struggles to "fit-in" and overcome the challenges this disorder causes.

Rubio does a terrific job getting inside the characters head and helping you understand the feelings of one suffering from this condition. It's a heart-warming story of loyalty from friends and loved ones, enduring love from those, and self-acceptance of one's personality. I even like how in the end, God came into the picture to help "heal," s
...more
Jocelyn
This book is the absolute worst. I have Tourettes, but I usually don't get offended at the comedy shows that spoof the disorder. I love the South Park episode about Tourettes, but I found this book to be offensive. You can tell the author is trying to tell a compassionate story, but it lacks so much research and believability. Yes, it was slightly different growing up in with Tourettes in Southern California in the 1990's than it would have been in Kentucky in the 1950's, but the author makes To ...more
Liz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tara
I found myself very frustrated with the book. It is hard for me to be objective about the writing since I spent most of the time being so aggrivated by the way people treated her. I only finished the book because I could reason that it was the 1950's and people did not understand the disorder.
With that being said, could it be a good book because it did affect me so much? I suppose, but on this one I am rating it based on how much I enjoyed the book.
Rachel Rouleau
I'm always intrigued by stories about people with rare and odd conditions, so I was excited to read this one. I enjoyed the writing style, but some of the story is just too out there for me. Some of it felt like it was happening in her head rather than in reality - characters say and do things that seem so unrealistic. Got way religious for me at the end there. Overall, liked it but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
Sarah
I have no idea why I requested this from the library, but it was terrible. Seriously, anything that Oprah picks is sooooo predictable and miserable. The second I got he book home and saw the Oprah note, I knew I was dooomed. I read three quarters of it between my commute and my boring day at work, but then tossed it in the return pile. And I hardly ever stop in the middle, so be afraid....
Mariaha
I picked this book because it one of Oprah's book club selections. In the beginning of the book I found her story a bit amusing, but towards the end I just wanted to finish the book just to end it. The last few chapters were a complete drag, I found myself scanning and not reading each word just to get through the pages without throwing it across the room. Overall, I didn't like this book.
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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
...more
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