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Icy Sparks

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  39,665 ratings  ·  1,326 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, 320 pages
Published March 8th 2001 by Penguin Group (first published January 1st 1998)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  39,665 ratings  ·  1,326 reviews

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Sep 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Oct 16, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Jul 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 02, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing

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
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
It was good, but then it got super religious at the end. Which is fine. Just not my wheelhouse. I enjoyed the rest of the book, though.
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Until I reached the last 30 pages, I really enjoyed this book and was prepared to give it a rating of 4. The religious fervour that came out of nowhere had me feeling as if I had missed something in the story. But I hadn't. The feeling at the end is that the author needed a quick and tidy way to wrap up Icy's story, it felt like a cop out..after years of struggling with Tourette's Syndrome (undiagnosed) it takes one reluctant trip to church to discover that Jesus is the answer. I could buy into ...more
Edwina Callan
As the mother of a child that has Tourette's Syndrome, I was appalled by the stereotypical portrayal of the main character. Complex vocal and motor tics, such as those described in this book, are the rarest symptoms of this disorder and yet I've heard it called "The Cussing Disease" because it is always shown at the absolute worst end of the spectrum in print and media.
Believe me, if my son starts spewing out cuss words then it isn't because of his Tourette's.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Karen Klein
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it

"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
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
For Kaska-boom: I was so frustrated by this book! I didn't really like Icy although I did feel for her and her struggle. The people who loved her but really did nothing to help her were part of my frustration. Icy's struggle with her disorder and inability or unwillingness to share what was going on inside her were a part of my frustration. The fact that no one really seemed to do anything to try to understand her was part of my frustration. The characters like Mamie Tillman and Miss Emily who I ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Icy was nervous about starting 4th grade. She'd been a good student all through those first few years, but she'd heard scary stuff at the 4th grade teacher, and she wondered how she could manage the outbursts that took her down to the basement on a regular basis. More and more, it seemed, she just had to get to a place all by herself and croak and tic and pop her eyes. Once she took care of those things, she could be "normal." If she didn't, could prove embarrassing.
4th grade doesn't
Gail Poag Smith
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Marie Horning
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Marie by: Maggie
Icy is an adolescent orphan girl growing up with her grandparents in 1950s rural Kentucky. She has Tourette's Syndrome, but no one there really understands her disorder at the time. She ends up isolated from her community; too scared to go out. Icy is a very intelligent young lady, but her tics and uncontrollable cursing/croaking are wrecking her self-confidence.

After failing time and time again to trade a wiggle for a jerk, I felt all kinds of contradictions roosting inside me. I was afraid of
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
I enjoyed this book about a quirky, unique and odd little girl who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome in the 1950s before anyone understood what it was. That is, until the last 25 pages. Up until that point I would give the book 4 stars. But the ending felt force and rushed, and the religiosity felt judgmental and negative. I hated it. I live near a religious "college" that teaches faith healing. They actually believe that they can heal anyone of anything through prayer, and will grab hold of me w ...more
Bel Condon
Lots of different emotions transpired in the pages of this book, I learned about Tourette Syndrome also. Icy Sparks is a special girl.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Never in my life have I wanted to burn a book, that is until I finished Icy Sparks. Aside from the bullshit Christian propaganda at the end of the novel, the sentences were filled with awkward actions and adjectives. There were actual moments I was reading the book, had to reread the passage and then shake my head like…what? For example:

p. 143 “Then I jumped up really high, stretched out my legs into an airborne spit, and descended, straight legged, with a thud- my feet planted squarely on the
Dec 01, 2007 rated it liked it
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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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