“A story about love, marriage, compromise, parenthood and the difference between the life one imagined and reality.”*
Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer, a California-bred feminist, surfer, and aspiring journalist, met Ismail Suayah, sincere, passionate, kind, yet from a very different world. One of eight siblings born in an impoverished fishing village in Libya, Ismail was raised a Muslim--and his faith informed his life. When Krista and Ismail made the decision to become a family, she 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 bold piece of writing (and thinking) by an incredibly brave woman.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things
“A moving, lyrical memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Candid and rich.” —Good Housekeeping
“Unrelenting candor and gorgeous prose.” —BookPage
“Krista Bremer has a very good story.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A beautiful account of [Krista’s] jihad, or struggle, to find peace within herself and within her marriage.” —The Kansas City Star
“Lucid, heartfelt, and profoundly humane . . . Navigates the boundaries of religion and politics to arrive at the universal experience of love.” —G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen
“This is a memoir worth reading.” —*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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.
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My Accidental Jihad
Ms. Bremer, Thank you for your incredibly insightful journey about what it really means to love someone. I applaude you for your honesty, venerable description deep in the soul of your marriage, your faith and your bicultural family. I saw you speak at the LA Times book fair this year and i was fascinated with your story. May you always have such peace.