Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Ms. Hen decided to read this novel because she found it at one of the Little Free Libraries near where she lives. She knew nothing about the book; she had never heard of it, but she liked the cover and she read the back, and decided that it was something she would be interested in.
This novel is about a troubled young girl, Icy Sparks, who lives in Kentucky in the mountains with her grandparents. Her mother dies shortly after she is born, and her mother ate a lot of crab apples while she was pregnant with Icy, and her grandparents tell her that is the reason why she has golden hair and yellow ocher eyes. Icy believes that is why she croaks like a frog.
Icy has problems getting along with people. When she is ten, her fourth grade teacher does not like her from the beginning. Also, the same year, she starts to have fits and twitches and she feels like she has to get something out of herself. She doesn’t want anyone to know, but a boy sees one of her episodes and tells everyone. The teacher puts her in supply room to get her away from the class, but she has another fit, and the principal decides to put her in a hospital. Icy has more issues with people at the hospital. When she gets out, she does not go back to school, and spends time with her grandparents, and her friend, Miss Emily, an obese woman who gives Icy her school lessons.
This book reminds Ms. Hen of a lot of other novels she has read. It has snippets of magic, and reminded her of GEEK LOVE. It also made her think of GIRL, INTERRUPTED and THE BELL JAR, with the scenes in the hospital. It also has elements of Southern Gothic, as in Flannery O’Connor, and her short stories about disturbed people.
Ms. Hen really liked this novel, but she thought the ending was a cop out. She didn’t understand why Icy did what she did. She will not tell you what happens, because she thinks the novel is worth reading anyway, but she thinks there could have been a more substantial ending. In the Epilogue, Icy goes to college and she is diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. She likes knowing there is a name for her disorder and she is not alone. Ms. Hen doesn’t think there are many novels about Tourette’s Syndrome, but she did see a film about the illness called NIAGRA, NIAGRA, many years ago which she really enjoyed.
This is a rural novel, and of course, there are some chickens. There is a scene where Icy is spying on her neighbors that stole chickens, and killed them. Afterwards, someone steals the family’s chickens, and Icy knows it was the neighbors. She tells her grandfather, and he doesn’t believe her, so they go to the other farm and see the dead chickens, “When he rounded the corner, I heard him. Even before I saw him, I heard him. A sad, low groan, like the bellow of a sick cow came to my ears, and I knew he had seen them Henrietta and Bonnie, dangling from that wire – blood like droplets of rain – scattered over the ground.”
Ms. Hen thinks this is a decent novel because it is about a troubled young girl with an issue that is not discussed much in literature. The book is beautifully written, and captures the voice of a place. She liked it, but there were problems with the character’s development at the end, but she forgives Icy, because she knows Icy was lonely and just wanted to try to fit in.