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Publisher's Summary

Rural Kentucky in the 1950s is not an easy place to grow up, and it's especially hard for 10-year-old Icy Sparks, an orphan suffering from undiagnosed Tourette Syndrome, who lives with her grandparents. Icy's adolescence is marred by the humiliation of her illness. Its all-too-visible signs are the source of endless mystery and hilarity as everyone around her offers an opinion about what's troubling the girl. Eventually, Icy finds solace in the company of Miss Emily, an obese woman who knows what it's like to be an outcast in this tight-knit community. Narrated by now-grown Icy, this novel shimmers with warmth and humor as it recounts a young girl's painful and poignant journey into womanhood - and the many lives she touches and enriches along the way.
©1998 Gwyn Hyman Rubio; (P)2001 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

  • An Oprah Book Club Selection

"Vivid and unforgettable...brimming with love and hope." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Richly inspired." (Time Out New York)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Alene
  • Montgomery, TX, USA
  • 03-28-03

Icy made me warm.

I really enjoyed this book. At first I almost gave up on it, but I'm glad I didn't. It made me laugh, cry, and sing. My eyes were opened to Tourette Syndrome and how diagnosed people suffer from the public's ignorance.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Fran
  • Silt, CO, USA
  • 12-22-02

Icy Sparks

Superb narration, excellent descriptive scenes and truly Southern flavor

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Derek
  • Union, KY, United States
  • 05-18-07


Living in Kentucky I can almost feel Icy's story more than just listen to it. It was so well written and excellently read. The story deserves 5 stars, but the narration only 3. Most of the songs used in this book are beloved hymns and she just made up tunes for them (or maybe made up one tune and used it over and over) and it truly took away from the feel of the scenes where the author used music to help impart the perfect atmosphere to tell her story. Her use of so many songs shows that they are integral to who Icy was. I hope the author does not listen to the narrator's rendition. I had to turn down the sound and sing like Icy would have done it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Audrey
  • Hustisford, WI, USA
  • 01-23-08

kind of annoying

Maybe this book would have been a better read than listen. I got very aggravated with the narrator singing all of the songs to the same melody, and there are alot of songs in this book. The author focused less on the main character's battling of Terett's Syndrome and more on everyone finding religeon. It bored me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sara
  • Rosemount, MN, United States
  • 08-24-09


This was ok, I wasn't completely into it, but it was still good, it did keep me wondering what was going to happen. The narrator was very irritating, she could change her voice ok, but kept saying the 'I said', 'P.V. said'...after 5 times in a row it got irritating. I don't regret getting it, it was a good story, just narrator did it injustice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

a worthwhile read!

while being entertained by this authors gifted writing, readers will be taught to feel what it's like to be born different. icy Sparks is a memorable character.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

great story,,,but

The story was really good, but it is a shame the narrator didn't take the time to familiarize herself with the tunes to the simple hymns used. If she didn't know them, she should have just recited them, or skipped them altogether. For those of us who have heard and sung these songs, listening to her monotone, tuneless 'melodies' she used for them was like listening to fingernails raking over a chalk board. Thank goodness the good outweighed the bad about this book.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Love the Narrator, Hate her singing

This book is about a girl who is supposed to have a good singing voice and the songs are central to the plot. However the narrator doesn’t seem to know the tunes to some of the songs and hymns (especially those from earlier in the book). She sings familiar songs to strange made-up melodies. It is as if she chooses not to sing these songs. There is such a dramatic difference between the narrative and vocal parts; The narrative parts are excellent, but the vocal parts are painfully bad. Is there a reason for this? It seems like it would be simple to supply a recording of the songs to the narrator before having her do her recording.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

kept me hooked

remember reading this book a long time ago. I remember how much I enjoyed it then so I wanted to re-read it. nice story of a good family from back in a time when things were so different.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • DSG100
  • Hill AFB, UT
  • 10-21-14


What disappointed you about Icy Sparks?

The author barely touched on the issue of Turrets. The book is abridged. The end of it is all proselytizing and gospel songs - I had to hold the headphones away from my ears because the singing was so bad, so long, and all the songs were sung in its entirety. Pure hell, ironically.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Whatever my book club chooses (turns out it was 11/22/63 - awesome!)

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator should not have sung the songs or a singer should have been hired.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Icy Sparks?

The entire ending from the revival on.