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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
Cover of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North
Borrow Borrow

A rich and revelatory memoir of a young woman reclaiming her courage in the stark landscapes of the north.

By the time Blair Braverman was eighteen, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to carve out a life as a "tough girl"—a young woman who confronts danger without apology—she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her.

By turns funny and sobering, bold and tender, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube brilliantly recounts Braverman's adventures in Norway and Alaska. Settling into her new surroundings, Braverman was often terrified that she would lose control of her dog team and crash her sled, or be attacked by a polar bear, or get lost on the tundra. Above all, she worried that, unlike the other, gutsier people alongside her, she wasn't cut out for life on the frontier. But no matter how out of place she felt, one thing was clear: she was hooked on the North. On the brink of adulthood, Braverman was determined to prove that her fears did not define her—and so she resolved to embrace the wilderness and make it her own.

Assured, honest, and lyrical, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube paints a powerful portrait of self-reliance in the face of extraordinary circumstance. Braverman endures physical exhaustion, survives being buried alive in an ice cave, and drives her dogs through a whiteout blizzard to escape crooked police. Through it all, she grapples with love and violence—navigating a grievous relationship with a fellow musher, and adapting to the expectations of her Norwegian neighbors—as she negotiates the complex demands of being a young woman in a man's land.

Weaving fast-paced adventure writing and ethnographic journalism with elegantly wrought reflections on identity, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube captures the triumphs and the perils of Braverman's journey to self-discovery and independence in a landscape that is as beautiful as it is unforgiving.

A rich and revelatory memoir of a young woman reclaiming her courage in the stark landscapes of the north.

By the time Blair Braverman was eighteen, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to carve out a life as a "tough girl"—a young woman who confronts danger without apology—she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her.

By turns funny and sobering, bold and tender, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube brilliantly recounts Braverman's adventures in Norway and Alaska. Settling into her new surroundings, Braverman was often terrified that she would lose control of her dog team and crash her sled, or be attacked by a polar bear, or get lost on the tundra. Above all, she worried that, unlike the other, gutsier people alongside her, she wasn't cut out for life on the frontier. But no matter how out of place she felt, one thing was clear: she was hooked on the North. On the brink of adulthood, Braverman was determined to prove that her fears did not define her—and so she resolved to embrace the wilderness and make it her own.

Assured, honest, and lyrical, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube paints a powerful portrait of self-reliance in the face of extraordinary circumstance. Braverman endures physical exhaustion, survives being buried alive in an ice cave, and drives her dogs through a whiteout blizzard to escape crooked police. Through it all, she grapples with love and violence—navigating a grievous relationship with a fellow musher, and adapting to the expectations of her Norwegian neighbors—as she negotiates the complex demands of being a young woman in a man's land.

Weaving fast-paced adventure writing and ethnographic journalism with elegantly wrought reflections on identity, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube captures the triumphs and the perils of Braverman's journey to self-discovery and independence in a landscape that is as beautiful as it is unforgiving.

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About the Author-
  • Blair Braverman graduated from the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program, where she was also an Arts Fellow. She has been a resident fellow at Blue Mountain Center and the MacDowell Colony and her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, The Atavist, The Best Women's Travel Writing, Orion, AGNI, High Country News, Waging Nonviolence, and on This American Life. She lives in Mountain, Wisconsin.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 9, 2016
    Braverman’s search for personal fulfillment in some of the most unforgiving places on Earth, often behind a team of sled dogs, makes for a compelling if at times scattered debut memoir. Raised in California with childhood dreams of being a polar explorer, Braverman first visited Norway at age 10, cementing her desire to spend long periods in Scandinavia. A yearlong exchange program during her junior year in high school sends her not to the icy—and rural—north but to Norway’s more cosmopolitan south, to stay with a host family in Lillehammer. After high school, she returns to Norway to study dog-sledding, immersing herself in dog care and learning how to survive the endless night. This experience leads to a summer in an Alaskan dog tour company, Dog World. It’s still Norway that draws her in, and she finds herself most content working in the small northern village of Mortenhals, where she helps aging shopkeeper Arild with his general store and cobbled-together museum. Braverman often cuts too abruptly between her strands of memory, so it’s difficult to give each piece equal weight, but her easy, lyrical prose makes this search for identity and self a worthwhile read.

  • The New Yorker "Her descriptions of the natural world are arresting, and powerfully convey her conviction that 'how to be cold' means 'how to live.'"
  • New York Times Book Review "As a storyteller and a stylist, Braverman is remarkably skilled, with a keen sense of visceral detail that borders on sublime. Her ability to draw readers into heart-pounding action sequences is what makes the book so courageous and original as a travel narrative and a memoir of self-discovery."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Remarkable. . . . It's amazing to watch as she develops backbone and grit, determined not to let anyone or anything stand between her and the icy landscape she loves so much."
  • Huffington Post ". . . a richly insightful work whose bold but delicately delivered honesty has much to teach us. . . . Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is gorgeous, moving and universally resonant. Most of all, it's important."
  • Boston Globe "A thoughtful meditation on a lifelong attraction to the cold."
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune "a lyrical, understated writer. . . . [an] unusual memoir [that] will resonate with anyone who has ever chased a dream through a thicket of difficulty."
  • The New Republic "Blair Braverman confronts hostility and harassment in her memoir of adventure in the wilderness."
  • Dallas Morning News "Hilarious and heart-wrenching."
  • Brevity Magazine "This book could be described in a dozen different ways, but no description would get at root of this book, which is about gender and violence and belonging, but most of all about being human and learning to live—and trust oneself—in world where things aren't always safe."
  • The Guardian "In a new book, Blair Braverman describes a life spent obsessed with the frozen north, and the sexual violence she encountered in that male"
  • Electric Literature "Compulsively readable. . . . Braverman's debut beautifully portrays what it's like to be a woman in an unwelcoming climate."
  • Kirkus (Starred Review) "[Blair's] external experiences are extraordinary, but it's what happens internally that both sets this memoir apart and gives it universal resonance. Indelible characters, adventurous spirit, and acute psychological insight combine in this multilayered debut."
  • Publishers Weekly "Her easy, lyrical prose makes this search for identity and self a worthwhile read."
  • Green Bay Gazette "The next must-read for those who were fans of Cheryl Strayed's Wild and for those with a daring spirit or those hoping to have more of one."
  • The Maine Edge "Stunning. . . . Braverman exposes all of her desires, insecurities and triumphs in a compulsively readable tangle of raw nerves, brutal honesty, and biting wit. She allows room for not just her inner strength, but her doubts and fears, striking a balance that brings her story into vivid focus."
  • Library Bound "The best work of non-fiction I've read in 2016, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is this year's H is For Hawk."
  • Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx "A delicate meditation from the frontiers of...
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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube
Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North
Blair Braverman
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