family book club: icy sparks

icy sparks

Normally I’m begging for authors not to explicitly spell things out for their readers. We’re smart, and we can tell who is sad without having to read “John is sad.”

But in Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio (Kindle version here), I needed some things to be spelled out. It was an easy read, but one that left us with more questions than satisfactory answers when we held our quarterly book club meeting. (This time, we did it in person while we were all on vacation. Photo from my mom.)

family book club meeting

Icy Sparks is about a young girl in the South during the 50s who deals with tics and urges she can’t explain or control. She becomes an outcast and spends some time at a mental institution for observation. It’s a coming of age novel (kind of like Middlesex), and Icy goes through a lot without fully understanding why.

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family book club: middlesex

middlesex jeffrey eugenides

We met a few weekends ago to discuss our #familybookclub pick, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Kindle version here). We used Google hangouts, and it worked pretty well!

family book club video chat

It was so fun to see everyone and to get together from our homes all over the country. And it didn’t hurt that my adorable nephews jumped on to say hello. We were all glad we read Middlesex because it wasn’t something we would have picked up on our own, but I don’t think any of us will probably reach for it again. We classified it as a coming of age novel–for our narrator and many members of his family.

Coming of age

Cal begins his story with his grandparents all the way in Greece. Desdemona and Lefty are brother and sister while a war is raging around them and their own feelings for each other are raging inside. When they leave their burning city and get on a ship to America, they create a new life. Quite literally, in that they lie to everyone and to themselves by telling a story of how they met and fell in love. They became husband and wife on this trip, and they also became adults with an entirely new history. And in America, they begin their adult, married life. But it’s not as easy as they’d pretended it could be.

Milton and Tessie, the next generation and parents to Cal, are cousins. What starts as an exploration of their sexuality turns into a marriage and a family. And, likewise, Cal’s first experiences with sex help him find out who he really is.

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