Torn from a magazine, a photo of a glacier ignites an obsession in Ruth, a self-sacrificing Midwestern mother. Her fascination with ice culminates in an impulsive decision to make a fresh start by moving her family to Alaska with her new boyfriend, Kenny. This rash plan horrifies sixteen-year-old Sylvie, who hides a secret attraction to Kenny.
The realities of the wilderness and tensions within the tiny Alaskan community of Resurrection Valley test Ruth’s resolve. As Kenny’s attention shifts to baiting bears and building an eight-wheeled all-terrain vehicle, she feels diminished, and no matter how she tries to conform, she can’t please Kenny’s strong-willed, religious mother. Ruth also worries over Sylvie, who spends hours staring at the ice, and ten-year-old Anna, who shows a little too much enthusiasm for becoming a Glory Girl at Lena’s church.
As their individual longings braid and cross, the exposed secrets of mother and daughter test their love. In precise and evocative prose, Cold Spell tells the parallel stories of a mother who risks everything to start over and a daughter whose longings threaten to undo them.