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Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
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Nov 05, 11

Read from November 03 to 05, 2011

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 a secret. Her secret makes her good at keeping the secrets of others, even when it's to her detriment. Not only is she special, but she's special in a way that makes her alone. No one understands her and she doesn't even understand herself. Who in this world hasn't felt like he or she has been on the outside looking in? Gwyn Rubio does a good job of creating a sympathetic character without pretensions. Icy may suffer from Tourette Syndrome in an age before it was really understood, but this book is a work of fiction, well-written and entertaining, without the seeming agenda of educating the audience. How refreshing!

If you want a fast read about a smart kid who is a misfit and doesn't really understand what's wrong with her, this book is a good option. If you teach high school, I can easily see this being on a reading list where kids get to choose what they read.
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