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3.5 out of 5 stars
Icy Sparks
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Showing 1-10 of 58 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
on January 18, 2002
I thoroghly enjoyed reading this book!
Gwyn Hyman Rubio effectively brings you into the world of little Icy Sparks. You feel her pain, her embarassment, her anger. I got so mad reading about her teacher, Mrs. Stilton. What made the reading more interesting is that you don't know for sure what her disorder is (although you can figure it out) until the end of the book. I knew nothing about Torette's other than the foul language part, and it was interesting to find out about the eye popping and the body convulsions.
I would have liked to see a bit more description on the eye popping part. Every time I reached that part of Icy's fits, I just kept picturing the lady who had been on Letterman a few years back who could make her eyes seriously buldge out of her head.
I especially enjoyed the end of the book. It has a great ending, and you feel very happy for Icy. But don't be mislead- it's not a typical feel good book. Icy has a disorder, but she learns how to make the best of it.
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on November 4, 2001
Icy Sparks tracks the life of a bright and curious young girl with Tourette's Syndrome from age ten to adulthood. The protagonist, Icy Sparks, is from the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. She is raised by her loving grandparents named Matanni and Patanni; an empathic friend named Miss Emily; and a caring school principal named Mr. Wooten.
At the age of ten, Icy starts to have uncontrollable urges to pop out her eyes. The urge is "so intense it was, like an itch needing to be scratched. I [Icy] could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain." Not only did Icy suffer from eye-popping tics, she also suffered from an uncontrollable need to verbally outburst thoughts that were on her mind. Icy tried to hide the fact she suffered from Tourette's Syndrome but it always flared up when Icy felt strong emotions. The town Icy lived in did not understand her disease so she was treated like an outcast. For example, she was forced out of the public school system and had to educate herself in the school's supply room. When her tics and verbal outbursts did not cease in the supply room, Icy was subsequently institutionalized. With all these educational setbacks, Icy does obtain an exceptional home-schooled education with the help of Miss Emily and Mr. Wooten.
Even though Icy withdraws from society for fear of being made fun of, Icy learns to accept her disease and, most importantly, accept that she is labeled. However, the biggest lesson Icy learns is that Tourette's Syndrome does not stop her from learning that she can love and be loved.
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on July 28, 2001
What a delightful adventure reading this book has been! From the cover to the end, it is full of emotion, joy and sadness, hope and disappointment, delight and misery. I never knew an author that could walk through these ranges so perfectly. Icy Sparks is a young girl that must grow up with a strange affliction, Tourettes Syndrome. In grammar school, she suffers bouts of arm and leg jerks, her eyeballs pop out wide, and sometimes she croaks in loud throaty noises. At times she will let loose with the wildest string of cusses. You can imagine what the other children think of her. She lives with her grandparents, who love her dearly, but they too have to admit she needs some help. Tourettes Syndrome is unnamed at that time, so Icy is shipped off to a rehabilitation center, where we are taken from her despair, through her anger and hurt and pain, and finally back to hope again. Though not yet diagnosed and no where near a cure, she returns to live with her grandparents, and her unpredictable "fits" continue. Throughout the story, Icy talks and thinks and acts like the spunky, lovable little girl she is. I grew to love her by the end of the first chapter. Her dear friend Miss Emily is one person you will wish you'd had in your life when you were a child. Icy's grandparents adore her, Icy's mother died shortly after her birth and her Father died also. Icy's coming of age is particularly poignant given her condition. You will feel for her as I did, and you will grow with her as I did. Icy Sparks may have Tourettes Syndrome, but it came with a courage I wish I had! The author keeps the characters down to a few loved ones, and in so doing, makes the story that much closer to your heart. There is Matanni, Icy's wise grandma, and Patanni, her grandpa, a man of few words but a very golden heart, Miss Emily, whose size speaks for the amount of love she is capable of giving. Mr. Wooten, the principal at Ivy's school in not a developed character, but I was fond of him nevertheless. The rest I will let you find for yourself, but this time, Oprah picked it right!
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on April 8, 2001
Though time is said to heal all wounds, the stigmatic effects of Tourette's syndrome last a lifetime. Gwyn Hyman Rubio's debut is an exciting work with strong characterizations, and a powerful plot. The lead characters are filled with depth so they seem real and their relationships genuine, and their interrelationships are often amusing and competitive yet supportive when needed. The struggles of the eponymous heroine intermingle love and an investigation into a strong relationship that readers will adore even as they enjoy the clever story line.
ICY SPARKS is a well-written relationship drama that teeters on the brink of melodramatic soap opera, but never falls into that crack. Rubio has written a stalwart novel that will please readers. She has written a complex, exciting tale that will bring her much acclaim as one of the sub-genre's most enjoyable novelists. The key to the success of this deep drama is the cast, all of whom seem genuine whether they display sadness, grief, or love. This excellent tale showcases the abilities of the author to take her audience on an emotional ride. Rubio is a newcomer, but shows she has a gift as a storyteller by keeping the reader actively involved throughout.
Lurdane Blurber
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on March 25, 2001
THE LORD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS...ICY SPARKS WAS COLD AS ICY CREEK WHEN SHE WAS BORN, HENCE THE NAME ICY, BUT BY THE TIME SHE WAS 21 YRS OLD SHE HAD BECOME A WONDERFULLY WARM COLLEGE GRAD IN MUSIC THERAPY. THIS IS THE STORY OF THAT JOURNEY...HOW DESPITE ALL THE TICS, JERKS AND CROAKS SHE ENDURED FROM TOURETTE SYNDROME, A NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER, HOSPITALIZATION IN A MENTAL FACILITY AND RIDICULE FROM HER PEERS AS WELL AS A MEAN FOURTH GRADE TEACHER WHO UNMERCIFULLY TORMENTED HER, SHE WAS ABLE TO SURVIVE. ICY WAS FORTUNATE TO HAVE A GOOD FRIEND, MISS EMILY, WHO MADE HER CONTINUE HER EDUCATION AT HOME, GAVE HER ENCOURAGEMENT TO GROW FOR HER FUTURE...TO PLAN ON COLLEGE AND NEW FRIENDS. BUT ICY SEEMED TO BE SLOW GROWING UNTL HER GRANDOTHER AND MISS EMILY TOOK HER TO A REVIVAL MEETING AND THAT EXPERIENCE GAVE ICY THE NEEDED SPARK. THIS LITTLE GIRL FROM THE HILLS OF KENTUCKY LEARNED VALUABLE LESSONS ALONG HER JOURNEY OF 21 YEARS. IF YOU THINK YOU WOULD NOT LIKE THIS STORY OR COULD NOT LEARN FRON A LITTLE GIRL, THINK AGAIN AND GIVE IT A GO! THIS IA A FIRST NOVEL FROM GWYN HYMAN RUBIO AND I HOPE THERE ARE MORE TO COME..SHE IS A SPELLBINDER, BELIEVE ME.
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on March 25, 2001
I enjoyed reading this book, because I learned about a subject I knew nothing about before. This is a wonderful coming of age novel set in rural Kentucky in the 1950's. The main character is an orphan named Icy Sparks. She suffers from Tourette's syndrome which causes her body to jerk involuntarily. Tourettes also causes Icy to repeat curse words uncontrollably. This condition leads to much embarassment at school in her early years. She is teased and shunned by her classmates. Icy spends some time in a mental hospital upon the suggestion of her school principal and grandparents. She makes friends with other disabled people there. She also learns new ways to deal with her disorder during her stay. Miss Emily is a compassionate fat woman. She is Icy's best friend throughout the book. I loved the relationship between these two characters. She teaches Icy her academic subjects and about life too. I loved the ending of the book. It is so touching when Icy finally finds her gift. I highly recommend Icy Sparks.
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on March 12, 2001
This book was a gift to me from a person who recognized the difficulties a family faces when a child has Tourette Syndrome. It follows the childhood, adolescence and early adulthood of a girl in the 1950's with a condition that we now know as Tourette Syndrome, but back then, and in that area, was simply called "the fits." We see the heroine as a person first, even a delightful and insightful person, but one whose symptoms are misunderstood, and who sometimes endures egregious "treatments" that never cure her "problem."
Today, we consider ourselves "enlightened" in our views of Tourette Syndrome, but I can report that this is only true in the abstract. Revulsion toward people who cannot control some movements or noises continues even to this day, and prevents their full acceptance and participation in activities that we 'normal' people take for granted; attending church, being allowed in a 'normal' classroom, being accepted by 'normal' peers. The book details how cruelly a likable and talented girl is treated because of her differentness in the 1950's, but it is not so far from the truth of what sometimes happens today to these defenseless and innocent children.
This book could have descended into the misery these people often suffer, but instead it's a book of self discovery, and even triumphs. There is a hilarious passage where Icy is involved in her first relationship with a boy. Although she has Tourette's, we know her as a teenage girl first. We can all identify with the awkwardness that she encounters in what she might have expected to be a romantic interlude.
The book follows Icy to early adulthood, with the scars but also the self knowledge that Icy carries like a veteran. The ending is so uplifting, that I wanted to shout and applaud. All children with Tourette Syndrome, and all the people who care about them, especially their teachers, should read this book cover to cover. Yes, there can be happiness and achievement and triumph for people with Tourette. The book reminds us not to write them off.
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As a person suffering from OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), and as a pharmaceuticals R&D scientist, I have learned that Tourete's Syndrome and OCD are thought to be related in terms of brain biochemistry. The most troublesome cases are those in children, who cannot understand what is happening to them. I know children with OCD and they talk to me in a very frightened tone.
Icy reminds me of these children. She hides when the impusles become to difficult to resist. The writing here is especially good in describing Icy's struggle. The earlier quote that she is "a little girl who had to keep all of her compulsions inside," is right on the money.
I had some trouble believing that her institutionalization at the Bluegrass State Hospital would 'persuade' her that there are actually children more "different" than she. Most children haven't the capacity to accept that. It is one of the great unknown epidemics in today's society.
It is also somewhat difficult to believe the epilogue as children don't necessarily 'prevail' over these disorders - they are with them for the rest of their lives in nearly all cases - but they can learn to control the disorders - and that's the critical thing for those in therapy to understand.
I was moved by the quote: "Children silent as stone sing for me. Children who cannot speak create music for me." This is the hallmark of a good child psychiatrist/psychologist. While I think this book is a valuable addition to anyone wishing to learn more about the stigma of mental illness this is a must buy. However, as a 'recovery' story it still seems misunderstood by readers. The 'overdone' prose it how people with these disorders speak of their 'affliction'. I applaud Rubio for recognizing this.
I also about Rubio's pointing out that most people with mental illness are actually suffering from a biochemical imbalance which is treatable - not from 'brain fevers'. Too many people today still think the latter - in this book note how Icy is isolated from her friends and community.
I want to disagree with those people who want to 'label' this book as 'Appalachian' or as a metaphor for society or as a book for women only.
I think this book is a must read for anyone interested in learning about the stigma of mental illness. The above metaphors do apply but I think they miss the key point of the book.
This is a valuable contribution to the genre of 'memoirs', real or fictional, of people with mental illness. There are even some books about these disorders written as children's books! I can only hope Rubio will continue to write in her pleasant straightforward style on similar subjects.
Buy this book - you won't be disappointed.
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on August 16, 1999
Icy Sparks is as unique as the place in which she lives, but unlike many of her fictional peers, she is cut of whole cloth and presented as a lovable, incorrigible, searching young girl, rather than as a predictable stereotype. So many books set in specific and unique places such as Appalachia have been written by "outsiders" who rely too much on images perpetrated by filmmakers, writers, and publishers with little or no firsthand experience of the place. The fact that Icy Sparks' creator lives in the very region (eastern Kentucky) in which the book is set lends authenticity and value to the content. Icy is not a stereotype at all, and neither are her neighbors and family and friends. She is as universally unique as is each and every reader who will encounter her. In segments where the story could have dissolved into cliche, Rubio has beautifully avoided the temptation. A good example is the tent revival scene. It would have been easy to choose to let this character with Tourette Syndrome blend and fade into a noisy background of the religiously possessed who speak in unknown tongues and contort their bodies in fits of worshipful zeal. Instead, Rubio has demonstrated a writer's maturity and excellence in chosing to allow Icy to find her own way into, through, and out the other side of the experience. The irony of how Icy uses her discoveries and the truths she recognizes along the way are testaments to this remarkable book's strengths and beauty. Highly recommended.
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Gwyn Hyman Rubio's "Icy Sparks" is an exceptional book. She has created an unforgettable character in Icy -- a young girl suffering from Tourette's syndrome. Set in rural Kentucky during the late 1950s and early 1960s, the reader is consistently challenged to question their response to the incidents and situations that occur in this novel.
The book is so rich in detail that the reader is often left feeling as though they have actually witnessed one of Icy's outbursts. The question is -- from which point of view? One of Gwyn Hyman Rubio's strongest assets is her ability to convey the shock and horror of those around Icy as she "jerks" and "croaks," while at the same time describe Icy's self-hatred of the inablity to control her body.
In the end, this book is not simply about Tourrette's syndrome. It is about human igonrance, fear and tolerance. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
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