Written in the distinctive Southern tradition of such writers as Olive Ann Burns and Eudora Welty, this amazing first novel tells the sad, funny, transcendent story of a young girl growing up in Appalachia with Tourette's syndrome.Written in the distinctive Southern tradition of such writers as Olive Ann Burns and Eudora Welty, this amazing first novel tells the sad, funny, transcendent story of a young girl growing up in Appalachia with Tourette's syndrome.Read Less
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I have chosen this book to review because as a counselor, mother of a neurologically challenged child, person who has repeatedly dealt with rural poverty, and a member of a wonderful book club there is no doubt in my mind that you need to read Icy Sparks.
When I read the first few chapters, I thought it was just another book about the meaning of warmth and love to a disabled child. It's true that this love matters, but what also matters is that the child is given the respect to struggle and fight through the issues. In this case Icy has to suffer the pangs of growing up in an untouched background where such things are still mysteries.
What Gwyn Rubio does in the first person is get the reader into the personality as well as the thoughts and experiences of Icy. This is not an easy trick to do in the first person narrative. The colorful experiences and language never fails to fascinate the reader. In addition, the key friendship that unlocks Icy's trust is unexpected and perhaps a bit unpalatable to readers of this genre as the friend has an issue to struggle over as well.
And as the ending is a surprise and integral to the plot, I want you to read this book to find it out. If you read it, your faith that anyone can love and be loved will be heightened or restored.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-06-15 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 introductionęthanks to Miss Emily and Icy's grandmotheręto 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. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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