Crossing Borders

The Search for Dignity in Palestine

Non-Fiction - Cultural
506 Pages
Reviewed on 08/29/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Crossing Borders: The Search for Dignity in Palestine by Christa Bruhn is a personal narrative recounting the author's experience of Palestine, drawn from direct observations, acquired knowledge, and imagined scenarios. Historical aspects are supported by archival research and personal testimonies, predominantly from Palestinian and Israeli scholars who challenge established narratives. The book acknowledges the contentious history leading to the 1948 founding of Israel and the ensuing Nakba for Palestinians. The author's unique perspective, as an American of German heritage, a Middle Eastern Studies specialist, and a mother to Palestinians, shapes their approach. The memoir employs Arabic place names to honor Palestinian connections to their land. Maps highlight historical references and on-ground realities, underlining the significance of borders. The complex interplay between Israel and Palestine emerges, emphasizing the challenge of reconciling two peoples sharing the same land.

The timing of Crossing Borders by Christa Bruhn landing in my lap could not have been more perfect as less than a month ago I was crossing over from Jerusalem to the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and arguably one of the most contentious pieces of land in the world: Hebron in the West Bank. What Bruhn describes in her own experiences is right on the nose and I love that she has written this book with a balanced blend of her own observations, documented history, political facts, and the voice of the people. The landscape is described in almost cinematically visual imagery with historical remnants right against contemporary living conditions. Bruhn weaves in gorgeous symbolism, such as the significance of the saber (prickly pear) as a symbol of rootedness: "The enduring family, the resilient saber, the stone remains, persist in its absence." Regardless of what side of the now Banksy-embellished walls a reader's support lies, there is no question that Bruhn's book is a persuasive and well-written account of her experience. Very highly recommended.