Willimantic, Conn. – On Sept. 17, author Krista Bremer visited Eastern Connecticut State University to talk about her memoir “My Accidental Jihad: A Love Story.” The University Hour event took place in the Science Building and included a reading from the book, as well as a talk on love and relationships.
“My Accidental Jihad” tells the story of Bremer’s love affair with an older Muslim man from Libya, and the cultural struggles that followed as they married and started a family. “I wrote this book to in part declare my relationship as a love story, but not an airbrushed one like what we are fed growing up.”
Bremer met Ismail, her husband to be, as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina. Avid runners, they crossed paths on the trail several times before deciding to run together. “He was older, darker, ‘poorer’ than me. We were from two totally different worlds,” said Bremer, a lifelong surfer who was raised in southern California by “hippie parents.” Ismail, already in his 40s at the time, was raised by illiterate parents in an impoverished Libyan village.
“I remember when I first saw his little apartment. I thought he was poor. But he didn’t feel his material circumstance was any reflection of who he was. I grew to love his minimalism and sought refuge there from all the clutter of my apartment,” she said.
“As our relationship took off, I went into a bit of a crisis. We had radically different views of the world,” she continued. Now, having been married for more than 10 years, Bremer can look back on this initial struggle with clarity. “All relationships are bicultural, whether you marry someone from across town or across the world. You need to find a way to balance and embrace different perspectives.”
When discussing the memoir’s title, Bremer said, “‘Jihad’ is a very volatile word in our society. There are many connotations and misunderstandings with it. ‘Jihad’ means struggle, and it’s the perfect word to describe the inspired struggle that is marriage.”