Bombs and Bougainvillea: An Expat in Jerusalem, by L. E. Decker
Published by Newport Press, 21st July 2020
Genres: Nonfiction, autobiography, memoir
Linda and her family were no strangers to moving to unusual places. As expats living in places such as Dubai and Jordan, they faced a good number of obstacles and difficult situations. But one of their more challenging postings turned out to be Jerusalem. Moving your family into a very unsettled part of the world must have been a daunting task. Getting used to the checkpoints and constant military presence, whilst at the same time getting to grips with the multitude of Jewish holidays and traditions must have been exhausting. Imagine having to have an emergency exit plan in case the political situation turned bad!
This book was a gift from my aunt, who is a friend of the author. They met whilst living in Jordan, both expatriates with similarly aged children and husbands working for international organisations. Having this personal connection was quite cool when reading Linda’s book as it felt just like a friend telling me anecdotes from her life, over dinner or something. In fact, Linda’s style of writing is very much like that; familiar and fun, down-to-earth and honest.
One of my favourite things about reading nonfiction is learning about the lives of others. And I definitely learned a lot in this book! I had no idea about all of the different Jewish holidays and traditions, about eating Kosher and the history of Jerusalem itself, as well as the larger region. Although the realities of living in Jerusalem must have been difficult, it was fascinating to learn about and it made me want to visit Israel and see these beautiful places for myself.
At the end of each chapter, the author included recipes or “words of the day” in various languages. I really loved this as it reinforced the informality of the book. And I got to learn a few words of Hebrew and Arabic! I was also inspired by Linda’s descriptions of the amazing food there, and I have added one of her cookbook suggestions to my wishlist!
Overall, this was a really great and enjoyable first-hand account of expatriate life in Jerusalem and I really enjoyed it.
My rating: 4/5