From Wisconsin to Gaza to Jenin: An American Writer’s Lived Experience in Palestine [Book Review]

Sam Bahour
4 min readJun 24, 2023
Crossing Borders: The Search for Dignity in Palestine
By Christa Bruhn
Little Creek Press (May 20, 2023), 506 pages, $28.95

Christa Bruhn’s newly published memoir is not the first to revolve around Palestine. However, it is uniquely placed among the few books which were written by writers who, themselves, experienced Palestine.

If you walk away from reading this book feeling that you have just read a memoir of an American daughter of a German immigrant raised under Nazi Germany, and the mother of three Palestinian Americans, who meets Palestine from the ground level, you would be correct.

If you walk away feeling you have been exposed to what daily life is like for Palestinians living under prolonged military occupation, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling you were presented with a high-level lesson on Palestinian history, along with the seismic shift that took place in Palestinian life following the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling you have just read a Palestinian cookbook, full of culinary insights from inside daily life in Palestine, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling you were given a crash course in the Arabic language idioms expressed in every Palestinian household, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling you got an inside look at how the leading agricultural firm in Palestine, Canaan Palestine, was established and the amazing people behind the scenes, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling you were given a sneak peek into Palestinian family life seen through the eyes of a deeply loving American from Wisconsin with a vested interest, through marriage, into a Palestinian family, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling that you were deep into the mind of an American social justice activist bent on wanting to help, be it in the kitchen, in the fields, or to bring peace to this troubled region, you would also be correct.

If you walk away feeling you were eloquently transposed throughout Historic Palestine by way of a travel log of a curious and impassioned traveler, you would also be correct.

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