If the Ice Had Held

Product Details:

Series: SFWP Literary Award Winners
Paperback: 260 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1939650917

About the Book:

Melanie Henderson’s life is a lie. The scandal of her birth and the identity of her true parents is kept from her family’s small, conservative Colorado town. Not even she knows the truth: that her birth mother was just 14 and unmarried to her father, a local boy who drowned when he tried to take a shortcut across an icy river. Thirty-five years later, in Denver, Melanie dabbles in affairs with married men while clinging to a corporate job that gives her life order even as her tenuous relationships fall apart. She still hasn’t learned that the woman who raised her is actually her aunt—or that her birth mother visits her almost every day. This fiercely-guarded secret bonds the two most important women in her life, who hatched a plan to trade places and give Melanie a life unmarred by shame. Yet, as a forest fire rages through the Rocky Mountains and a car accident shakes the family, Melanie finds herself at the center of an unraveling tangle of tragedy and heartbreak. If the Ice Had Held speaks with a natural lyricism, and presents a cast of characters who quietly struggle through complicated lives.

About the Author:

2017 Literary Awards Program grand prize-winner Wendy J. Fox is the author of The Seven Stages of Anger and Other Stories and The Pull of It. She received her MFA from Eastern Washington University, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in many literary reviews, websites, and blogs.

“Fox’s novel tells the story of the cold and lonely landscape of the Mile High City, with honesty and tenderness, from one woman’s perspective. It’s a book about harbored secrets and shared discovery, told in lyric style.” 


“Pick up this beautiful novel today. It’s stunningly written and immediately engrossing. I suspect I’ll have to extend my reading hour because I don’t see myself being able to put this one down before I finish.”

—Drink. Read. Repeat.

“Razor-sharp…written with incredible grace and assurance. I gave myself over to this story and felt as though I had inhabited these characters.”

—Benjamin Percy, author of The Dark Net

If the Ice Had Held, at its heart a story about second chances, is both haunting and luminous. I was captivated by how, in the aftershock of tragedy, these memorable characters try to find their way toward some brighter place. Expertly shifting back and forth in time, Fox has crafted an intricate mosaic shimmering with gorgeous prose.”

—Heather Bell Adams, author of Maranatha Road

“Wendy J. Fox’s prose is both haunting and full of bright spirit. Her latch on language is akin to an insect in amber:tight and solid and sparkling, and in the case of If the Ice had Held, houses perfect, vivid characters awash in the most timeless of troubles, namely, the bearing and rearing of unplanned children and the sleep of unchartered lives. The various perspectives leave us scratching our heads, wondering why we’ve never before possessed the ability to see the world–and life–in quite this same way.”

—Paula Coomer, author of Jagged Edge of the Sky

“Wendy J. Fox’s If the Ice Had Held is a wonderful novel founded on the sexual union of a lonely girland a high school boy. What ensues is a remarkably told tale of the nearly forty years of lives, principally but far from exclusively, of three women–the sister, the mother, and the child, Melanie. Told without recrimination, in brilliantly crafted and telling snippets that plumb the ordinaries of these lives, this novel veers toward the metaphysical.”

—John Keeble, author of Broken Ground

“A kind of suspense is built into the very structure of If the Ice Had Held. I became more and more invested in each character and storyline and more and more eager to see how they would intersect…I found it nearly impossible to put the book down.”

Small Press Picks

“In this tale of tragedy, family secrets, and hidden identities, Wendy J. Fox weaves–with taut prose and an unflinching eye–a web of intersecting lives whose deceptions, disillusionments, and desires capture your attention and then your heart. She has a gift for writing the pulse of real people.”

—Jen Michalski, author ofThe Summer She Was Under Water

If the Ice Had Held is a stunning novel. From its very first pages, I was captivated by the vivid intimacy of Wendy J. Fox’s prose and her generous sense of character. Indelible, insightful, and deeply moving, If the Ice Had Held illustrates the complex bonds of family – the terrible ways we hurt one another, the sacrifices we make to save one other.”

—Jillian Medoff, bestselling author ofThis Could Hurt

“An intricate and artfully drawn novel of broken families and tangled relationships between characters who carry secrets over decades, binding them together with both love and lies.”

—Virginia Pye, author ofDreams of the Red Phoenix

“In If the Ice Had Held, Wendy J. Fox gives us an array of characters we come to know well, characters who often embody our best selves. Most of them make decisions that change their lives,and those decisions are based often on what someone else needs, on situations others find themselves in, sometimes on love. Sure, there are some who give in to temptation, but even they wish for change. Fox’s characters are the opposite of selfish, the opposite of self-centered. Refreshingly so.And though If the Ice Had Held has many characters, moves back and forth in time, and gives us amazing and intricate connections between the characters, in Fox’s hands, all is clear. The writing is precise and crystalline. This is a hard to put down book.”

—Mary Troy, author ofSwimming on Highway N

“Throughout, Fox pivots seamlessly among the perspectives of these key players, crafting a poignant story that questions fate and free will.”


“A terrific novel [that] weaves several different stories, across a span of time, and it all culminates in one of the best final chapters I’ve read in a novel in a long time.”

—David Abrams, founder, The Quivering Pen