MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

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Icy Sparks

by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio X
Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2001, 308 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2001, 308 pages

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Through her grandparents' memories of her mother and father, Icy learns that she was born "a frog child from Icy Creek" with eyes the color of heaven's "golden light." In what way does the mythology of her birth help Icy to accept her affliction?

  2. Why does Icy compound the consequences of her fits by lying; either denying they happened or fabricating excuses for her outbursts? Is this a symptom of her Tourettes or a reaction to it?

  3. Do you agree with Miss Emily's assessment that Icy's affliction is similar to her own? Should people who are "different" form a community with one another? Should Icy have been less critical of Miss Emily's weight problem? Lane's effeminate behavior? Peavy's "frog" eyes?

  4. Icy's Tourettes makes it difficult for her to keep any secrets. Yet she never reveals what she saw Mamie Tillman do near Little Turtle Pond. Why?

  5. Was Icy's confinement in the Bluegrass State Hospital ultimately a good or bad experience? Would she have considered becoming a therapist if she hadn't met Maizy and Rose?

  6. Icy's fits are often precipitated by people who - even if they're pretending to be "syrup" like Mrs. Stilton - don't have her best intentions at heart. When she runs into him grown-up and "beautiful," does Peavy Lawson fall into this category?

  7. When Patanni dies, Icy's relationship with Matanni changes. How does this help Icy to make the transition into adulthood?

  8. What is it that allows the normally reticent Icy to "find" her voice in song at the revival meeting? When Icy becomes a therapist, why do "children as silent as stone" sing for her?

  9. Icy's outbursts are usually violent and profane. How does Rubio use humor to offset some of her more harrowing moments?

  10. Icy live almost eight years of her life not knowing that her tics and pops are symptoms of Tourettes-a neurological disorder. Neither Icy, nor her family, nor the members of her rural Kentucky community know whether she's ill, "crazy," or "possessed." If she had been diagnosed, would Icy's childhood have been any easier? Would the townspeople have been kinder or would they still have shunned her as "different"?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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