Synopses & Reviews
Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer would not have been able to imagine her life today: married to a Libyan-born Muslim, raising two children with Arabic names in the American South. Nor could she have imagined the prejudice she would encounter or the profound ways her marriage would change her perception of the world.
But on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail. He was passionate and sincere — and he loved adventure as much as she did. From acquaintances to lovers to a couple facing an unexpected pregnancy, this is the story of two people — a middle-class American raised in California and a Muslim raised by illiterate parents in an impoverished Libyan fishing village — who made a commitment to each other without forsaking their own identities.
It is the story of a bicultural marriage — and aren't all marriages bicultural? In any marriage, we might discover that our mate is foreign to us, with very different language, memories, and assumptions about home and family. How we respond to difference shapes our world.
Profoundly moving and often funny, this meditation on tolerance explores what it means to open our hearts to another culture and to embrace our own. It is Krista Bremer's unexpected struggle to reach beyond herself, her accidental Jihad.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"My Accidental Jihad is a bold piece of writing (and thinking) by an incredibly brave woman." Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love
"Utterly absorbing....A beautiful book." Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
"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
"A moving, lyrical memoir....A sweet and rewarding journey of a book." Kirkus Reviews
"Told with rare honesty, My Accidental Jihad is the story of Krista Bremer's lifelong quest for insight and understanding, a search that leads her out of the Pacific surf to journalism school in North Carolina and through the complex challenges and unexpected joys of a cross-cultural marriage and family. This book is a powerfully personal account of the courage and hard work necessary to open one's heart and keep it that way." Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements
"My Accidental Jihad is one of the most captivating and moving memoirs I've read in years. The story Krista Bremer tells — one of radical foreignness between a married couple — could be a metaphor for all committed relationships." Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy
"Readers of memoir will welcome this love story about patience and kindness and learning the importance of putting culture first." Library Journal
About the Author
Krista Bremer is the associate publisher of The Sun magazine and the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation award. Her essay on which this book is based, “My Accidental Jihad,” received a Pushcart Prize. Her essays have been published in O: The Oprah Magazine, More magazine, and The Sun, and she’s been featured on NPR and in the PBS series Arab American Stories.