Icy Sparks

By Gwyn Hyman Rubio


Chapters and Analysis:

Author's Biography:

Gwyn Hyman Rubio was born and raised in Georgia. Her father was also an author. After graduating from college, Gwyn joined the Peace Corps where she taught in Haiti and later met her husband. For a long time she refused to be a writer because she did not want the same profession as her father. Later she changed her mind and became an author. She started with writing short stories but now she writes novels. She and her husband have been happily living in Kentucky for many years now.


Themes, Motifs, and Symbols:

Plot Overview:

Icy Sparks is about a young girl named Icy growing up in the hills of Kentucky with her grandparents. Early on she starts to realize she is different. Ticks, jerks, cursing fits, and other malodies become a part of her everyday life. No one knows she has Tourettes Syndrome. The story is her life story of how she learned to live with her disorder. She must learn to accept others and recieve the unconditional love her family gives her. She struggles in school and spends some time in a children's hospital. But in the end she finds the acceptance she is after and she becomes an inspiration to us all.

Historical Context:

Icy Sparks grows up in the 1950's and 60's. Unfortionately for her, this means that Tourettes Syndrome has not been discovered yet and doctors do not know what is wrong with Icy.kentucky.jpg



Icy Sparks is living in a small rural town in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. She lives with her grandparents but she also spends a few months in a children's hospital about a half hour outside of her town. She has lived in the same town her whole life because she loves the way the hills hide her secrets. She used to go downtown and to school but later in the novel she chooses to stay at home to avoid people.

Study Questions:

1. Why do you think Icy got so mad at Joel McRoy when she knows he was telling the truth?

2. How are Miss Emily and Icy similar? How are they different?

3. Why does Icy try to hide her jerks at the beginning of the novel?

4. How does Icy feel about going to the children's hospital?

5. What is Maizy trying to teach Icy about people who are different?

6. Why will they not let Icy go home from the hospital for Christmas?

7. Do you think the doctors did the right thing by putting Icy on all of those drugs that helped, but took away her emotions and identity?

8. Did Icy really like Peavy or did she just like being accepted?

9. What does Matanni realize when Icy becomes mad at her for seeking new friendships?

10. What changes the way Icy feels about her disorder?

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Book Reviews:

"Wondrous reading...a combination of emotional fire and ice that will take your breath away."

-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Vivid and unforgettable... brimming with love and hope."

-The New York Times Book Review

"Gwyn Hyman Rubio's plucky, imperfect heroine Icy Sparks throws herself into life with a ferocity that cannot be denied."

-San Diego Union Tribune

"This book... puts [Rubio] on the map as an impressive new Southern female voice... richly inspired."

-Time Out New York

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