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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  4,294 ratings  ·  606 reviews
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

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Hardcover, 274 pages
Published July 5th 2016 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  4,294 ratings  ·  606 reviews


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Start your review of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North
Kalen
I didn't read any of the reviews of this book until I finished it. I loved this book and if you want one that features fewer men and their feelings, goddamn write it yourself. This is Braverman's story and she told it the way she wanted to.
Kelly
A completely engaging memoir about Braverman's experiences finding her "true north" in her young life. I loved how vivid the Alaskan and Norwegian settings became and I love how full of character the people she interacted with were.

More than this being a "finding herself through adventure" memoir -- something so rare with a lady at the helm -- this is very much about being one of those women who survived to tell a story about the cruelties of misogyny. This is a book that deals frankly with not
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Stephanie
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, arc, july
Do you enjoy reading about one young woman's self-absorbed journey towards adulthood when you would rather be reading about her time in Alaska and Norway? Then this is the book for you. If you're hoping for anything insightful beyond the fact that women, everywhere, are discriminated against in a myriad of ways when in a male-dominated field, then skip this one.
Sassafras Lowrey
Jul 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love this book, but in the end I would have been happiest reading the first chapter and the afterword (which was by far the most interesting chapter in the whole book).

For a book hailed as a feminist frontier memoir there sure we're a lot of men and their experiences and feelings. This book wouldn't even come close to passing the bechdal test. In fact really the whole thing is about all the men in the author's life past and present - and their feelings, none of which felt relevant or
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E.K. Johnston
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Slightly outside of my usual wheelhouse, this ARC is a memoir. I met the author at the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association Author Social last week, and she was awesome. Also it's a great title.

It's about dog-sledding and growing up and, it must be said, the horrible thing that men do to girls and women. But it's mostly a story about loving something, and not letting go of it, no matter what the world does around you, and I like that sort of thing in fiction, so reading about it for REAL
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Judith
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it
You just have to love a book with such a cool title. Here's a young Jewish girl from California who is so drawn to cold places that at 18, instead of going to college, she heads off to Northern Norway to attend dog-sledding school. And she loves it! She loves being freezing cold and constantly in survival mode. She eventually goes home and attends college (in Maine) but summers in Alaska where she works on a glacier giving dogsled tours to tourists. Her living and working conditions are deplorab ...more
Sharon
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
I have been requesting this book from my library for over a year. I think it was on one of Oprah’s lists at some point and it had instant appeal: the title, the dogsledding, the soul-searching of a young woman, and the promise of Arctic adventures.

But nope, nope, nope. Not until the 25 percent mark do we meet any dogs. The book goes back and forth between author Blair Braverman’s past adventures in Norway and Alaska, and her current life there. As often happens when there is a past and current s
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Jessica
I kept hearing about this book when it came out, and I occasionally get onto her viral twitter threads about her sled dogs and enjoy them, so when this popped up for sale on Kindle, I thought Why not? I was especially intrigued when I realized that she had lived for a good chunk of time in Norway, and I was interested to read about someone doing the thing I had dreamed of doing in high school, namely going to Norway as an exchange student, and then later attending a folk school.

But . . . meh? I
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Stefani
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I listened to Blair's book on audio, which was such a treat given the nature of this deeply personal and self-reflective story about a young woman's search for herself through pushing boundaries. I actually went to high school with Blair, which made the read even more interesting! But I think most women would find her story really compelling, especially those who enjoy books with a streak of feminism or books about the outdoors. Blair is amazingly articulate about her own traumatic experiences r ...more
Jafar
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an interesting and well-written memoir, but I don't understand why some memoirists can't just stick to the point. If I read a memoir about a girl from California moving to the Norwegian and Alaskan Arctic, it's because I want to know what made her do that and how arctic life is from the perspective of a Californian. Please spare me the sappy details of how great your current boyfriend is, or how manipulative the last one was.
Dav
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a somewhat strange, but very well written and edited memoir of an unusual young woman with a fascination of the North. The strangeness mostly comes from Blair's disassociative style, and the dry observation tone that seems to be a Scandinavian trait as the tone felt similar to the Swedish memoir The Fly Trap. There is a subdued emotional intensity throughout, and frankly I teared up about half a dozen different times toward the end for various reasons.

As a father of daughters, some part
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Kaethe Douglas
I am just stunned by Braverman's fearlessness.

Cold weather makes me want to read about colder weather; dog sledding has all those appealing doggies. Happily this was lying about the house waiting for me.

Be warned: there isn't nearly as much dog sledding as I would have liked. Unlike say Winterdance (a beloved memoir with lots about training and such) the sport isn't the point. The point is loving the cold and the Northwoods. The point is that nature isn't even a tiny bit as scary as the men a t
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Molly
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Molly by: Book club - Becky
What happened to the good old days when people wrote about their exceptional adventures without turning it into a journey about self-discovery and unexceptional traumas?
This book is less about the author's time in the Arctic and Alaska and more about how a lot of men are pervy or rapey, but after awhile your self doubt turns to self trust and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Dear aspiring memoirists of the world: Your readers are not your therapists. Remember, WE paid YOU for this time together.

Side note: If
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Nadine Jones
I really love Braverman’s tweets about her dogs. She’s a gifted writer and makes me laugh, cringe, commiserate, cry, and love. When I saw she had written a book, I immediately borrowed a copy.

But it’s not the same Braverman. On Twitter she is knowledgeable, confident, brave, and happy. But in this book she seems unsure and unhappy. I wanted to hug her and remind her that she is brave, that even writing this book is an act of bravery.

It’s difficult to review memoirs.

I thought this would be abo
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Ann
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Parts of this were extremely interesting and I have respect for the author even as I felt concerned for her, in the same way I felt for Cheryl Strayed when I read Wild. Like, this is dangerous! Be careful! All of her encounters with predatory males (including her host father when she did a high school year in Norway! Appalling!) feel so true and are scary and infuriating. It fit together for me with the book as a whole and I wasn't disappointed like some reviewers that she spent time on those pe ...more
Ava
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Love the north? Want to comfortably experience it from afar? This excellent first book is an account of an achingly young person growing into the realities of young-womanhood in all its nuanced harshness, set in situations even harsher - wrestling hungry dogs, negotiating the social hierarchies of frost-bitten mushers and stoic Norwegians. The story is as gentle as a sled ride over rough terrain, but with pitch-perfect dialogue and crisp, unflinching portraits of difficult people and difficult p ...more
Cynthia Dunn
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I think I'm too much of a wuss to give this two stars. I have to think about it. I agree with the reviewers who were disappointed that it had more to do with her feelings about the men in her life (for the most part they were horrendous) than about life in the north and dog-sledding. As someone who loves winter, cold, and snow that was what I was expecting. Maybe I was wrong in that expectation but it was a slow slog for me.
Melissa
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book about how men are scum:

"I thought of a another man, the day before, who had wrapped his arms around me from behind. Treasure, he'd whispered, you're north of the moral circle now.

"But he was tugging my long underwear off my hips, kissing me even as I pressed my mouth shut. Pulling a condom from his pocket, rolling it on. As soon as I saw it, my heart sank: he had come here for this. I pressed my knees together. He shoved them apart easily. 'Please stop-' I whispered, but he put a
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Beth Rietveld
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was as much about coming of age and discovering the innermost workings in oneself as it was about living in cold places and learning about dogsledding. The relationship between Braverman and Arild was beautiful and poignant. The trials of coping with some of the issues that most woman have confronted at some point in their lives was described impeccably. Great first book by Braverman.
Bryan Alexander
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, gender, memoir
How does a young woman learn to live in the extreme north?

A friend recommended Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube to me because of our shared love for the north country. We both live in Vermont, which has a fairly serious winter. My wife and I are homesteaders, so we have learned a great deal about surviving in just barely sub-alpine conditions.

Braverman's memoir does meet those interests to a degree. We follow her to a remote location in Norway, as well as to an Alaska glacier. She learns how to r
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Mauri
I really warred with myself about how to rate this and have finally decided to leave it unrated.

If this had been fiction, it would have been one-star, no question. I read fiction to escape, and this had too much of the real world in it: sexual discrimination, harassment, and assault; fraught relationships with other women just because your hobbies and interests happen to coincide with stereotypically male pursuits; a poor ratio of navel-gazing to action, etc.

But it isn't fiction, it's one woman'
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Jennifer
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finished (after putting aside, then picking up again), but at times felt I needed a little mushing myself. The author's tales of her time mainly in Norway and Alaska were at times interesting--but for me there was too much emphasis on her emotional state--mainly her always feeling unsafe and insecure. I came away having the impression that only someone over privileged would have the time to be so constantly self-reflective. I thought I would be getting more adventure and dog sledding.
Allen Adams
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
http://www.themaineedge.com/adventure...

The quest to discover where we truly belong can be an arduous one. So many people spend countless months and years striving to figure out just who they want to be. It’s a journey that can prove to be daunting, surprising, rewarding and terrifying – sometimes all at the same time.

That is the journey laid out by Blair Braverman in “Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North.” It’s the story of a young woman whose
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Jessie (Zombie_likes_cake)
The main problem the book has is its own marketing: the cover, the title and the brief synopsis suggest this is a slightly humorous adventure travel memoir involving dog sledding. And whereas those aspects they are present but they are the background, the foreground is dominated by self-discovery and the sometimes problematic relationships the author has while being in Norway or Alaska. And it it really is nowhere near as funny as such a title suggests.
Still, I liked the book, I really liked Bra
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Anna
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, cold-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
Should've listened to the good reviewers of Goodreads on this one. I was too totally sucked in by the awesome title to pay attention. I thought I would get a story about adventure, the intense cold and things that are completely foreign to me. The kind of story that is so far outside of your world that you can lose yourself in it. I didn't. I got a memoir about a young girl growing into a young woman and going through struggles that were obviously very stressful to her and completely legitimate, ...more
Ron S
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, alaska, norway
Californian Blair Braverman falls in love with the North and moves to Norway while still in her teens to learn how to drive sled dogs. After a stint as a tour guide in Alaska she returns to Norway to run a quirky small town museum and work in a general store. She constantly struggles to become a “tough girl” as a young woman in a man’s world. Since the success of books like A Glass Castle, Running with Scissors and Wild, memoirs have at times seemed almost a contest of dysfunction where the most ...more
Rene Sears
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't read a lot of memoirs, but this was enthralling. I read it expecting sled dogs, but instead I got a coming-of-age story as Braverman confronts the magnet that pulls her north to cold, deserted places, and examines what it means to be one of the few women in a lot of these spaces. This story is honest as it is uncomfortable, and i hope that Braverman is in a better space now--compelling reading is often not fun to live through.

If Braverman ever does write a book about racing sled dogs, I
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Amy
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another in the "love to read about adventures I'd never do but am happy other people did and then wrote about them so I could read them" series.
Paige Gardner
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My God. I feel like I just took a masterclass on writing. I have never been so blown away by writing as I was in this book, Blair Braverman is... incredible. And I mean that beyond writing as well. The adventures she has, the life she has lead. Incredibly, she does not boast or seem to think of herself as unique. I LOVED this memoir.

This book feels like it may be marketed wrong — it’s not so much about dog sledding or surviving life in Norway/Alaska as much as it is purely about Braverman and h
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Play Book Tag: Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman - 4 stars 1 15 Dec 04, 2016 01:59PM  

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19 likes · 2 comments
“I felt the sun before I saw it. I was dislodging a stubborn ice clump when suddenly my vision snapped off and a sizzling feeling filled my skin. In another instant I could see again, and the landscape—the frozen fjord, the mountains behind the school—caught like a candlewick and exploded around me in a blaze of white fire. The dogs fell still and my throat choked shut, and then they were howling and I was laughing, and in another minute the day was over and the sun sank back down as if it had never been. My ecstasy was illogical, uncontrollable; I felt as if I’d been slipped a drug, and could no more control its chemical effects than I could force the sun to resurface.” 4 likes
“I knew I would never be a tough girl. And yet the phrase, with its implied contradiction, articulated everything I wanted for myself. To be a girl, an inherently vulnerable position. And yet, unafraid.” 4 likes
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