When I started to write about Ice Cream Star, I knew I wanted her to be a hero. She would be an ideal hero – brave, selfless, wild, funny, and honest. Like a proper hero, she would come from humble origins, and pass through a series of amazing adventures to eventually save the world. But she would also be a real person, not a fairy tale character or a Hollywood product. I’ve never been interested in writing about characters who don’t feel like actual human beings.
Last but not least, she does all this at fifteen. That isn’t so strange – in medieval times, the sons of lords led armies before they had begun to grow beards; Joan of Arc was sixteen when she first put on armour and rode to war. In fact, young people are both more fearless and more idealistic than adults. If the world is poor in adventure nowadays, it’s at least partly because we shut our teenagers away in schools.
That is Sandra Newman on writing her novel, THE COUNTRY OF ICE CREAM STAR (Ecco/HarperCollins), out now and gathering fantastic reviews. Jason Sheehan for NPR says, “Please, read this one. Hang with Ice Cream as she and her people flee before armies, before invaders and death.”
Newman’s richly imagined novel shows us a world where disease kills off young people just as they are emerging into adulthood, and the fifteen-year-old protagonist, Ice Cream Star, seeks to find a cure with unparalleled verve.
The book was blurbed by Kate Atkinson (“an astonishing achievement…breathtakingly ambitious”) and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.
In a WSJ profile of Newman, she talks about Ice Cream Star:
“Instead of agonizing over kissing a boy, she just has sex. Instead of killing people with her archery skills, she has an assault rifle. I also think she’s a lot smarter and funnier than Katniss Everdeen, but clearly I’m biased.”
NPR agrees she’s a heroine like no other:
“[Ice Cream Star] is ten times the heroine of those found in any of the tales whose bones this one steals — and, thus, ten times as complex and ten times as real. She would shame Tris Prior to her knees in a heartbeat. Would spank Harry Potter, steal his wand and send him on his way in tears.”
And in Chris Bohjalian’s review of the book for The Washington Post, he wrote:
“But what makes the novel so fascinating — and yes, so challenging — is the language Newman has created for Ice Cream and the way we see this disease-ravaged world through her eyes . . . I worried about Ice Cream, and I rooted for Ice Cream. And when I was done with her story, I was very glad that I had gotten my flu shot.”