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What Looks Like Bravery: An Epic Journey Through Loss to Love (Hardcover)
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A true story about the ways loss can transform us into the people we want to become.
Laurel Braitman spent her childhood learning how to outfish grown men, keep bees, and fix carburetors from her larger-than-life dad. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he went to spectacular lengths to teach her the skills she’d need to survive without him. But by her mid-thirties she is a ship about to splinter on the rocks, exhausted by running from her own bad feelings. We follow as Laurel changes course, navigating multiple wildernesses—from northern New Mexico and western Alaska to her own Tinder app. She learns the hard way that no achievement, no matter how shiny, can protect her from pain, and works to transform guilt and regret into gold: learning from a badass birder in the Bering Sea, a few dozen grieving kids in a support group, a pile of smoking ashes, and countless online dates. Along the way, she faces a wildfire that threatens everyone and everything she cares about, a grueling test of her own survival skills, and the fact that we often have to say our hardest goodbyes before we’re ready. In the end Laurel realizes that being open to love after loss is not only possible, it can set us free.
What Looks Like Bravery is a hero’s journey for our times. Laurel teaches us that hope is a form of courage, one that can work as an all-purpose key to the locked doors of your dreams.
About the Author
Laurel Braitman is the New York Times bestselling author of Animal Madness. She has a PhD from MIT in the history and anthropology of science and is the Director of the Writing and Storytelling Program at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Wired, and a variety of other publications. She lives between rural Alaska and her family’s citrus and avocado ranch in Southern California. She can be reached at LaurelBraitman.com.
“Evocative and clear-eyed . . . Just as Eat Pray Love and Wild inspired millions, this book will send countless readers on a different—yet no less life-changing or profound—pilgrimage, as it did for me.” —Samin Nosrat, New York Times bestselling author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
"What Looks Like Bravery is a gorgeous, tender and beautiful book. I'm in tears with the happy-sad truth and beauty of it. Laurel is a magnificent writer.” —Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild
"I freaking love this book. It’s about so many things, but mostly love and loss, and how you can’t let fear keep you from experiencing all the love – and pain and joy – in this glorious, heart-breaking, unpredictable world." — Jeannette Walls, New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle, The Silver Star, and Half Broke Horses
“The best kind of breathless, propulsive, rollicking human story—it will surprise you, inspire you, break your heart, and make you laugh out loud. To say this book is impossible to put down is cliché, but true: I tore through it in one sitting. It’s a life-changing lesson in healing from loss and trauma and a master class in resilience. It couldn’t have come at a better time. —Rebecca Skloot, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
“A gripping, luminous story. Braitman teaches us how to stay open to life and love in a world we can’t control, a world in which loss is inevitable but where hope springs eternal. It’s a revelatory tale about using your past to create your own beautiful future. A must-read.” —Lucy Kalanithi, MD, Stanford School of Medicine and widow of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, author of When Breath Becomes Air
“Beautiful. Laurel proves to us that home is something you carry inside of you and, in it, there is room for every feeling—the great, the bad, and the cheeky. This book will tear you apart and then put you back together again—and it will feel so good.” —BJ Miller, MD, author of A Beginner’s Guide to the End
“Gripping and gorgeous, this memoir is drawn from wisdom that only comes from life-altering loss. With breathtaking candor, Braitman sits us down by the campfire and shares a story that is relatable in its humanity but filled with the unexpected details that make for a riveting, mesmerizing tale. It made me understand my own childhood in a whole new way. What Looks Like Bravery is deeply, surprisingly healing.” —Kevin Kwan, New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians
"Read this survivor tale. Braitman transforms a free-fall, into a soaring triumph. It’s a little slutty, a lot brilliant, and you may notice the falcon that was always there, waiting for you to look up." — Jillian Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls, Pretty, All You Ever Wanted and more
"After a spell of world traveling, earning a doctorate, racking up honors and achievements, and, most of all, enduring the ordinary griefs of life, the author prevail[s]. One of her closing realizations is worth the cover price alone: 'There is no such thing as happily ever after. There is only happily sad or sadly happy.' An affecting investigation of loss, sorrow, and the search for meaning."—Kirkus Reviews
"An inspiring memoir...Her prose is shot through with rigor and intellectual curiosity, resulting in a candid study of one woman’s long path to emotional peace. This is perfect for anyone looking to heal a broken heart." — Publishers Weekly
"Readers struggling with grief will identify strongly with Braitman’s story."— Booklist