A New York Times Notable Book and the March 2001 selection of Oprah's Book Club®.. First published 1999.
Icy Sparks is the sad, funny and transcendent tale of a young girl growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky during the 1950s. Gwyn Hyman Rubios 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 "secrets"verbal croaks, groans, and physical spasmskeep afflicting her. As an adult, she will find out she has Tourettes Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, but for years her behavior is the source of mystery, confusion, and deep humiliation.
Narrated by a grown up Icy, the book chronicles a difficult, but ultimately hilarious and heartwarming journey, from her first spasms to her self-acceptance as a young woman. Curious about life beyond the hills, talented, and energetic, Icy learns to cut through all barriersphysical, mental, and spiritualin order to find community and acceptance.
Along her journey, Icy faces the jeers of her classmates as well as the malevolence of her often-ignorant teachersincluding Mrs. Stilton, one of the most evil fourth grade teachers ever created by a writer. Called willful by her teachers and "Frog Child" by her schoolmates, she is exiled from the schoolroom and sent to a childrens asylum where it is hoped that the roots of her mysterious behavior can be discovered. Here Icy learns about differenceher own and those who are even more scarred than she. Yet, it isnt until Icy returns home that she really begins to flower, especially through her friendship with the eccentric and obese Miss Emily, who knows first-hand how it feels to be an outcast in this tightly knit Appalachian community. Under Miss Emilys tutelage, Icy learns about lifes struggles and rewards, survives her first comical and heartbreaking misadventure with romance, discovers the healing power of her voice when she sings, and ultimatelytakes her first steps back into the world.
Gwyn Hyman Rubios Icy Sparks is a fresh, original, and completely redeeming novel about learning to overcome others ignorance and celebrate the differences that make each of us unique.
On June tenth, I turned ten. The Saturday after my birthday, the eye blinking and popping began. We were eating breakfast. Matanni was sitting across from me; Patanni was at the head of the table. To this day, I can remember my first urge--so intense it was, like an itch needing to be scratched. I could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain, and attached to the back of my head. Every few seconds, a crank behind my skull turned slowly. With each turn, the rubber bands yanked harder, and the space inside my head grew smaller. My grandmother was studying me, making sure my face had been washed, my hair combed and fastened on each side with the blue barrettes she had bought me for my birthday. While Matanni studied me, I stared straight ahead and glued my eyes, growing tighter with each second, on the brown fuzz above her lip.
"Icy," she said, sipping her coffee, "what are you staring at?"
"Them hairs above your lip,...
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