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My Accidental Jihad
by Krista Bremer


Overview -

"Utterly absorbing . . . A beautiful book." --Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

"A bold piece of writing (and thinking) by an incredibly brave woman." --Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love


Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer was a surfer and an aspiring journalist who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity.  Read more...


 
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More About My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer
 
 
 
Overview

"Utterly absorbing . . . A beautiful book." --Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

"A bold piece of writing (and thinking) by an incredibly brave woman." --Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love


Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer was a surfer and an aspiring journalist who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity. Then, on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail, sincere, passionate, kind, yet from a very different world. Raised a Muslim--one of eight siblings born in an impoverished fishing village in Libya--his faith informed his life. When she and Ismail made the decision to become a family, Krista embarked on a journey she never could have imagined, an accidental jihad: a quest for spiritual and intellectual growth that would open her mind, and more important, her heart.

"A moving, lyrical memoir . . . A sweet and rewarding journey of a book." --Kirkus Reviews

"Readers of memoir will welcome this love story about patience and kindness and learning the importance of putting culture first." --Library Journal

"Lucid, heartfelt, and profoundly humane, My Accidental Jihad navigates the boundaries of religion and politics to arrive at the universal experience of love." --G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen

"Bremer's particular story strikingly highlights the (usually more mundane) cultural clashes and compromises inherent to every marriage or long-term relationship." --Publishers Weekly


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781616200688
  • ISBN-10: 1616200685
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Publish Date: April 2014
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Family & Relationships > Marriage & Long Term Relationships
Books > Religion > Islam - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-12-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

Bremer, associate publisher of the Sun, explores the points of connection—and potential conflict—in her marriage to Libyan-born Ismail. Bremer, a surfing aficionado, feminist, avid traveler, and aspiring journalist, was not looking for a commitment when she began dating the older Ismail and shortly thereafter became unexpectedly pregnant. Her eventual surrender to a different kind of imagined future forms one of the memoir's central themes, as does the couple's evolving conversations on such issues as circumcising their son and encouraging their daughter's desire to wear the Muslim headscarf to school. One extended section recounts the couple's first visit to Libya, a trip during which Bremer addresses the political realities of Ismail's home country and finds herself alienated from and unexpectedly drawn to Ismail's family, so unlike her own white suburban American one. The memoir does not, however, offer similar insights into Ismail's (assumed) interactions with Bremer's extended family—such a focus could have offered rich potential for critical examination of and revelations about Bremer's own upbringing rather than merely the exotic otherness represented by Ismail's clan. Nevertheless, Bremer's particular story strikingly highlights the (usually more mundane) cultural clashes and compromises inherent to every marriage or long-term relationship. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

More than your typical marriage troubles

Jihad, an Arabic word meaning strife or struggle, has many connotations in our culture, few of them romantic. Yet romance is at the center of Krista Bremer’s moving memoir, My Accidental Jihad, though struggle is a key element as well.

One day while jogging in North Carolina, Krista, a graduate student, met an older Libyan man, Ismail. He was not exactly the person she’d envisioned as Prince Charming. He was graying of hair and yellow of teeth, not to mention that he struck Krista as utterly foreign, completely other. But when she was with him, she felt herself relax, as though she were settling into a deep pool of water. She felt at home. And then, to paraphrase Charlotte Brontë: Reader, she married him.

The memoir tells the story of their marriage in unrelenting candor and gorgeous prose. Intimacy with Ismail forces Krista to evaluate her American life with a critical eye. Do Americans really need so much stuff? She compares Ismail’s gentle and loving care of his few things with the habits of a previous boyfriend, who left piles of designer clothes littered across the floor. Krista is deeply glad to be with Ismail. But does he really have to use a 15-year-old coffee maker? Holidays are also difficult. For Krista, Ramadan is a mystery. She doesn’t like the way it changes her husband, who gets testy while fasting. She finds it hard to support him, to lay a single date and a glass of water neatly on the table for him to break his fast at sundown. Her reservations about Ramadan, though, pale next to his confusion about Christmas. Seeing Christmas through Ismail’s eyes, Krista simultaneously realizes how silly the holiday rituals are, and how terribly attached she is to them.

Years after their rushed nuptials, the pair hosts a belated, extravagant celebration of their love. It’s a dramatic event, full of grand gestures such as a friend who went to great lengths to play a piano outside. The next day, Ismail and Krista return to the site of the party to clean up. As she wipes a stained table, Krista reflects, “Ours will always be a sticky marriage.”

The brilliance of this book is that the author never lets herself or her husband off the hook. Instead, she presents an honest—and at times painful—portrayal of a beautiful union.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews