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book cover of Icy Sparks

Icy Sparks

(1998)
A novel by

 
 
Awards
Oprah's Book Club Best Book (nominee)
The eponymous heroine of Gwyn Rubio's Icy Sparks is only 10 years old the first time it happens. The sudden itching, the pressure squeezing her skull, and the "little invisible rubber bands" attached to her eyelids are all symptoms of Tourette's syndrome. At this point, of course, Icy doesn't yet have a name for these unsettling impulses. But whenever they become too much to resist, she runs down to her grandparents' root cellar, and there she gives in, croaking, jerking, cursing, and popping her eyes. Nicknamed the "frog child" by her classmates, Icy soon becomes "a little girl who had to keep all of her compulsions inside." Only a brief confinement at the Bluegrass State Hospital persuades her that there are actually children more "different" than she.

As a first novel about growing up poor, orphaned, and prone to fits in a small Appalachian town, Icy Sparks tells a fascinating story. By the time the epilogue rolls around, Icy has prevailed over her disorder and become a therapist: "Children silent as stone sing for me. Children who cannot speak create music for me." For readers familiar with this particular brand of coming-of-age novel--affliction fiction?--Icy's triumph should come as no great surprise. That's one problem. Another is Rubio's tendency to lapse into overheated prose: this is a novel in which the characters would sooner yell, pout, whine, moan, or sass a sentence than simply say it. But the real drawback to Icy Sparks is that some of the characters--especially the bad ones--are drawn with very broad strokes indeed, and the moral principles tend to be equally elementary: embrace your difference, none of us is alone, and so on. When Icy gets saved at a tent revival, even Jesus takes on the accents of a self-help guru: "You must love yourself!" With insights like these, this is one Southern novel that's more Wally Lamb than Harper Lee. --Mary ParkIn the tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Cape Ann, a funny, sad, wise, and redeeming first novel about a young girl's battle with a troubling affliction. Rural Kentucky in the 1950s is not an easy place to grow up in, and it's especially hard for 10-year-old Icy Sparks, an orphan who lives with her grandparents. Life becomes even more difficult for Icy when the violent tics and uncontrollable cursing begin. Icy's adolescence is marred by the humiliation brought on by her mysterious condition, and its all-too-visible symptoms are the source of endless hilarity as everyone around her offers an opinion about what's troubling the girl. Eventually, Icy finds solace in the company of an obese woman who knows what it's like to be an outcast in this tightly knit Appalachian community. Narrated by a now-grown Icy, this first novel shimmers with warmth and humor as it recounts a young girl's painful and poignant journey to womanhood--and the many lives she touches and enriches along the way.

--Icy Sparks was a New York Times Editor's Choice

"Awesomely intelligent . . . Robinson's accurate but unstuffy writing has done much to popularize wine and make it accessible to new drinkers." --The Guardian (London)

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Used availability for Gwyn Hyman Rubio's Icy Sparks

Hardback Editions

November 2001 : USA Hardback
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club) (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-7838-9509-7 / 978-0-7838-9509-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: G K Hall & Co
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


March 2001 : USA Hardback
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-670-03049-X / 978-0-670-03049-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Viking Adult
Availability: Amazon   


March 2001 : USA Library Binding
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club (Prebound))
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 1-4176-4842-2 / 978-1-4176-4842-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: San Val
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


1998 : USA Hardback
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman RUBIO
ISBN: 0-7394-1766-5 / 978-0-7394-1766-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Viking
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

April 2004 : USA Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-606-30503-3 / 978-0-606-30503-7 (USA edition)
Publisher: Demco Media
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2002 : USA Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club) (G.K. Hall Large Print Core Series)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-7838-9510-0 / 978-0-7838-9510-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Thorndike Pr
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


2002 : UK Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-14-300071-3 / 978-0-14-300071-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


March 2001 : UK Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-14-200020-5 / 978-0-14-200020-5 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2001 : USA Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-670-89668-3 / 978-0-670-89668-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Penguin Group Australia
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 1999 : UK Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-14-028014-6 / 978-0-14-028014-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


July 1998 : USA Paperback
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-670-87311-X / 978-0-670-87311-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Viking Adult
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


Audio Editions

July 2001 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 1-56511-512-0 / 978-1-56511-512-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Highbridge Co
Availability: Amazon CA   


April 2001 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 1-56511-513-9 / 978-1-56511-513-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


2001 : USA Audio Cassette

Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 0-7887-9926-6 / 978-0-7887-9926-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Recorded Books
Availability: Amazon   


2001 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Icy Sparks
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
ISBN: 1-4025-2908-2 / 978-1-4025-2908-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Availability: Amazon   


Kindle Editions

March 2001 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Icy Sparks (Oprah's Book Club)
Author(s): Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Publisher: Penguin Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA