Should we go back to Alaska?” I asked Rebekah each spring, on the phone. We’d sit in silence, pondering our excuses, before deciding that this was not the year. Maybe next year. Maybe the year after that.
But soon Rebekah was married, pregnant, settled in a way I could only marvel at from a distance.
She said, “I would never let my daughter do what we did.”
Blair Braverman and her parents lived in Norway when Blair was a ten year old girl; she spent her adolescence trying to make it back to the Artic circle. She eventually managed to convince her parents to send her to Lillehammer through an exchange student program in high school. Unfortunately, she was placed in a family with a creepy father that made Blair uncomfortable throughout her ten month stay.
After high school she returned to Norway to study at a folk school where she learned the trade of dog-sledding. If you are sensitive to animal cruelty this portion may be a bit disturbing; while Blair loves her dogs the instructor preaches cruelty. After her graduation Blair promised her parents she’d move back to America, so naturally she spends the summer on a glacier in Alaska (technicalities!) working as a dog musher- where (as a plus to the reader) the dogs are treated better than at the folk school.
Blair desires to become “tough” & “unafraid” and believes the North will provide that for her. However, she gets into a bad relationship on the Glacier that messes her up about men even more. These experiences interweave with a more present narrative in the tiny village of Morenhals, Norway where Blair spends her time working at the Old Store with its aging proprietor, Arlid.
With all the bad decisions that Blair makes, and she makes thousands, it is Arlid and her relationship that salvages Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube and makes it worth the read.
But maybe skim through the bits with the lambs and crows…