Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Adult Fiction)
Icy Sparks is a 10-year old girl growing up in rural Kentucky. Poplar Holler is a small town where everyone has secrets. Icy’s secret is that she has two sides: the one side everyone sees, and the other side she keeps tucked away and hidden—the side that uncontrollably pops, jerks, and croaks. Icy’s disorder leaves her afraid, confused, and isolated. Orphaned at an early age, she relies on the support of her maternal grandparents, as well as another “misfit” in a neighboring town, Miss Emily Tanner—the obese proprietor of a feed supply store. More than anything, Icy wants to be accepted, but can the frog girl from Icy Creek ever find true friendship and approval?
Rubio paints a cruel and unrelenting picture of small town life in the 1950s as a tight-knit community grapples with an affliction far beyond comprehension and social acceptability. Icy’s inability to regulate or understand what her young body is doing is heartbreaking, and the reader experiences firsthand her fear and frustration while she searches for normalcy in a world that avoids the strange and unorthodox.
The author gives us a protagonist that has an indomitable spirit and resilience and offers us important lessons in love, faith, and determination. The only snag appeared near the end of the book when the storyline made an unexpected shift toward religion. It seemed out of place and a little awkward, although I understand the bigger lesson the author was trying to convey. Still, Icy Sparks was an enjoyable read and teaches us all that our faults are oftentimes our greatest strengths.