Masks are strongly recommended at Town Hall Seattle. Read our current COVID-19 policies and in-building safety protocols.
Fri 3/24, 2023, 7:30pm
Laurel Braitman with Jon Mooallem
What Looks Like Bravery

Laurel Braitman spent her childhood learning how to outfish grown men, keep bees, and fix carburetors from her larger-than-life dad.

When Laurel’s dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he went to spectacular lengths to teach her the skills she’d need to survive without him. But when she reaches 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 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.

Laurel Braitman is the New York Times bestselling author of Animal Madness. She has a Ph.D. 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 TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe GuardianWired, 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

Jon Mooallem is a longtime writer for The New York Times Magazine and a contributor to lots of other magazines and podcasts, including This American LifeThe Daily, 99% Invisible and Wired. His most recent book is the essay collection SERIOUS FACE, one of the Seattle Times’ best books of last year. His previous book THIS IS CHANCE!, about the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, was named a best book of 2020 by BuzzFeed, Amazon and Brainpickings and is currently being adapted into a film. Jon has performed regularly at Pop-Up Magazine and occasionally collaborates on live storytelling and music projects with members of the Decemberists. He lives on Bainbridge Island with his family.

Presented by Town Hall Seattle.

Send this to a friend