Amazon.comAs a cub reporter at The New Republic , Jake Halpern earned the unofficial job title of Bad Homes Correspondent. Braving Home tells his stories of places where people really ought not live and the people who live there anyway. Halpern traveled to such inadvisable destinations as a bed and breakfast at the foot of an active Hawaiian volcano, a North Carolina town trying to recover from being completely submerged, an indoor Alaskan city, and an island in the Gulf of Mexico located directly in the cross hairs of numerous hurricanes. And while the places themselves make for interesting historical lore, the people who choose to stay and make their homes there form the real heart of the story. The doomed, it seems, get few visitors but have plenty of time on their hands. So Halpern goes out to meet them, crashes on their couches or guest beds and hangs out for a few days forming a one-man tourist industry. Far from being the kooks one might expect, Halpern's subjects come across as normal folks, though significantly more resilient than most, who stay in their homes simply because, well, those are their homes. Halpern himself figures prominently in most of the stories and at times it seems like the young man is spending too much time navel gazing. But on each of the book's five adventures, Halpern goes from wide-eyed visitor to welcome member of the community and in so doing demonstrates how, once you get used to it, any place can feel like home. Even if that it's surrounded by molten lava. --John Moe Book DescriptionFunny, moving, and utterly unique, Braving Home introduces us to five unforgettable modern American pioneers. When Jake Halpern was a cub reporter, he became obsessed with stories about "some outlandish and often hellish place inhabited by a handful of stalwarts who refused to leave." His fellow reporters joked with him and nicknamed him the Bad Homes Correspondent. But the more he learned about these people, the more he was drawn to them.
Determined to understand their fierce devotion to home, Halpern set off on a journey to five of the most punishing towns in America. Braving Home is his irresistible portrait of these hometowns and his friendships with their most loyal residents. In North Carolina, he meets a retired mill worker who single-handedly manned his hometown in the wake of a devastating flood. In Alaska, Halpern works for a spunky woman who runs a video store/tanning salon and delivers newspapers to an "indoor town" – a lone snowbound high-rise atthe foot of a glacier. At the base of a Hawaiian volcano, he stays with a hermit whose house, formally an inn, was surrounded by molten lava. In Malibu, nestled among the glitterati, a longtime "hillbilly" teaches him the traditions of firefighting. Finally, on a barrier island off the coast of Louisiana, a legendary storm rider tells of surviving hurricanes – even if it means tying one's hair to a tree.
Throughout his journey, Halpern explores the value of rootedness in an age when American society is more mobile than ever. Along the way, he discovers why no amount of floods, lava, wind, fire, or hurricanes can tug these unforgettable people from their roots.