A Tender Struggle: Story of a Marriage

A Tender Struggle: Story of a Marriage

3.7 3
by Krista Bremer
     
 

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“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

Overview

“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

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
02/01/2014
Bremer (associate publisher, The Sun) focuses her memoir on the contrast between the cultures of a man and a woman who meet on a running trail, fall in love, and decide to marry and raise a family together. A selfish, materialistic American woman who formerly worked as a pregnancy counselor finds herself on the other side of a pink test strip and marries the older, overbearing, irrational Libyan-born Muslim who is the father of her child. Ismail grew up in Africa with an illiterate father who was a shopkeeper but earned very little money. As a middle-class teenager in the United States, Bremer worked in an ice cream store to be able to afford more designer clothing. The couple's experience of Christmas and Ramadan show the stark difference between their customs. While Bremer is frantically shopping, wrapping, and decorating, Ismail can only ask her: "Why?" Meanwhile, Ismail, who is regimented by the monthlong Ramadan fast, has no patience for his wife's overindulgence, causing Bremer to wonder with annoyance if, when, and how her husband will find his Christmas spirit. VERDICT Bremer won a Pushcart Prize for her essay on which this book is based; her writing appears in numerous magazines (O: The Oprah Magazine; More). Readers of memoir will welcome this love story about patience and kindness and learning the importance of putting culture first.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL
Publishers Weekly
12/23/2013
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.)
From the Publisher

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

“Candid and rich.” —Good Housekeeping

“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 beautiful account of [Bremer’s] jihad, or struggle, to find peace within herself and within her marriage.” —The Kansas City Star

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

“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


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

“Candid and rich.” —Good Housekeeping

“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 beautiful account of [Bremer’s] jihad, or struggle, to find peace within herself and within her marriage.” —The Kansas City Star

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

“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

Good Housekeeping
“Sands’s calm tones connect the many realizations on Bremer’s rocky road to change and compassion.”
AudioFile

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

Review quotes

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

“Candid and rich.” —Good Housekeeping

“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 beautiful account of [Bremer’s] jihad, or struggle, to find peace within herself and within her marriage.” —The Kansas City Star

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

“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

Garner-Cleveland Record
“An honest—and at times painful—portrayal of a beautiful union.”
BookPage

Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-16
A moving, lyrical memoir about how an American essayist fell in love with a Libyan-born Muslim man and learned to embrace the life she made with him. Sun associate publisher Bremer was a wayward former California surfer girl just starting to build her life in North Carolina when she met Ismail. He was 15 years older than she and different from her in almost every possible way. Yet his gentle simplicity made her feel as though she could "finally exhale…and [open] up to [herself]" in ways she had not been able to with anyone else. When she unexpectedly became pregnant not long after they met, she faced a difficult choice: terminate the pregnancy and continue her pursuit of a promising career in journalism or keep the baby and accept Ismail's heartfelt offer of marriage. Unable to resist the mysterious allure of the future she "never intended—or even knew how much [she] wanted," Bremer chose to "stitch [their] mismatched lives together to make a family." Among the many challenges she encountered was coming to terms with Ismail's loving but traditionalist family in Tripoli. To them, she was a woman "weighed down by so much individualism, impatience, and desire." Yet through her visits with them, she also learned to temper the Western individualism she came to realize had been the source of the "creeping despair that comes from doggedly chasing the elusive dream that women can be everything at once." As she gradually came to accept a different way of living—and eventually, worshipping—in middle-class America, Bremer grew to appreciate Ismail, her extended family and the struggle they brought into her life more than she even imagined possible. A sweet and rewarding journey of a book.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616203979
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
04/22/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
139,411
File size:
941 KB

What People are saying about this

Unpublished endorsement

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

Meet 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. Her website is www.kristabremer.com.

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My Accidental Jihad 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Wildflowers More than 1 year ago
It is difficult to assess a book of this nature as it involves various issues like culture and belief with which one may not be familiar with. But this book is honest, and Krista Bremer has with all sincerity chosen to discuss her life and relationship as she embarked on a journey of unexpected struggle to open her heart and grow beyond herself, and explore a world which lies beyond her comfort zone. Krista Bremer is an American author and the associate publisher of The Sun magazine. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award, and a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship. In short, Bremer is no ordinary American. My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer is her love story of being married to Ismail, a Muslim who was born in Libya. It is beautifully written, and the story is much more than a cross-cultural marriage. In it she writes of her teething troubles, hopes, joy and how her marriage has changed her world and her mindset. My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer is an eye-opening memoir that is insightful and informative. It is about love and marriage. Bremer sensitively handles the cross-cultural issues, and paints a portrait that will open the eyes of many to the world around us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audiobook version during a car ride and found it very entertaining and intriguing. I recommend this story to anyone interested in new perspectives, humor and observing the contrast of different cultures through a love story. It is a lovely written memoir, which reminds some of Joan Didion's narrative style. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago