A woman’s unexpected struggle to open her heart and grow beyond herself.
This is Krista Bremer’s tender struggle.
Fifteen years ago, she was a surfer from a secular middle-class family who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity. Then, on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail. Kind, sincere, and passionate, Ismail came from another world: one of eight children, he’d been raised in an impoverished fishing village in Libya. When Krista later realized she was carrying his child—and she and Ismail made the decision to become a family—she embarked on a journey she never could have imagined.
Arriving in Libya to meet her relatives, Krista is engulfed by a tribe of extended family for whom faith informs every act, big or small. She discovers both overwhelming hospitality and unimaginable oppression as she spends her days within a circle of Muslim women who challenge her notions of femininity, freedom, and what it means to be family.
In this unlikely love story, we see a marriage of opposites, watching Krista and Ismail negotiate unforeseen differences at every turn: when their daughter decides to don a headscarf; during Ismail’s monthlong fast of Ramadan; as Krista attempts to explain Christmas trees and Valentine’s Day gifts. In any marriage, we might discover that our mate is foreign to us, with vastly different memories and assumptions about home, family, and the world. Krista learns to embrace the differences, both intellectually and emotionally, and on the way finds the meaning of true intimacy.
Fascinating, profoundly moving, and enlightening, A Tender Struggle explores what it means to open one’s mind to another culture—and just as important, to open one’s heart.