Book of the Week: Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube – Blair Braverman

I heard Braverman on NPR’s This American Life last year and was intrigued. When I first saw the title of this book, I laughed and knew I’d like it. (The “ice cube” refers to the glacier she worked on.)

It’s not every 19-year-old woman who decides to work as a dog musher on a glacier. This memoir of a young woman testing herself in the world should easily resonate with fans of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. In that book, Strayed was testing herself against the wilderness. Braverman similarly confronts a harsh wilderness landscape–but also a male culture that considers women with disinterest at best and abuse at worst.

The editor points out that Braverman combines “history, myth, memory, and personality in a new and distinctive kind of memoir. Braverman’s time in the North brought her great difficulties and profound joys: she was sexually harassed and assaulted on the job, but she found happiness with Quince, a trans man who loves the wilderness as much as she does. As Braverman reflects on these experiences, she offers us not only an incredibly unique take on the very particular challenges that women face in the wilderness, but also a broader and more relatable look at sexism and its effects on men and women alike.” So this story might also draw the same readers who are raving about Jessica Valenti’s Sex Object.

 Initial reviews will appear in the NYTBR, Outside magazine, O Magazine and Bustle, with an original essay from Braverman also appearing on Buzzfeed in July.

 ‘I’ve spent more than half my life pointed northward, trying to answer private questions about violence and belonging and cold,’ writes Braverman, a dog sledder and journalist whose frequent, extended visits to Norway and Alaska began from personal circumstances but soon assumed the significance of a quest to find a place where she belonged….Braverman was frequently tested by the male-dominated culture, wondering when jokes crossed the line into something more, whether she was experiencing harassment or it was just in her head…. ‘The thing was, nothing that had happened to me…was beyond the normal scope of what happened to women all the time. Some harassment by an authority figure, a few sexual remarks, pressure from an insistent boyfriend?’ ….Her external experiences are extraordinary in the frigid north that so few have experienced, but it’s what happens internally that both sets this memoir apart and gives it universal resonance.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Braverman’s] easy, lyrical prose makes this search for identity and self a worthwhile read.”
Publishers Weekly

 “Readers will likely find that ‘ice cubes’ are not the point, but rather the risky choices made while growing up and the struggles faced along the way.”

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North (9780062311566) by Blair Braverman. $25.99 hardcover. 7/5/16 on sale.

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