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Jesus Land: A Memoir Paperback – November 1, 2006
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More About the Author
Her second book, A Thousand Lives, will be published by Free Press in October 2011.
She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two daughters and works at the San Francisco Writers Grotto.
Top Customer Reviews
"Jesus Land" is about Julia growing up in her Christian fundamentalist household in Indiana in the 70s and 80s, and particularly about the relationship she had with her adopted African-American brother, David. The first part of the book focuses on Julia's experiences at home, and the second part on her harrowing stay at Escuela Caribe, a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic.
David & Julia are the same age, and so begin high school together. Unfortunately, David is the subject of ceaseless racial taunting, and Julia must keep to herself during the school day to avoid being seen as "the black kid's sister." Yet still, she is seen as an outsider. At home, things are no better. The Scheeres adopted another African-American, Jerome, since they thought that David "would want to play with someone of his own color." Unfortunately, Jerome is highly aggressive, and gets into trouble frequently. The father of the family is abusive, and frequently beats David and Jerome, while Julia is simply scolded. This sets the 2 boys against the white sister. Jerome then begins sexually abusing Julia, perhaps as a way of getting back at the father. The mother is emotionally distant (if not hostile), and resents it whenever the children ask her for something beyond the minimum food, water, shelter, and church that she provides. At their hard-line Calvinist church, Lafayette Christian, they are told lots about sin and repentance, but very little about how to deal with the problems around them.Read more ›
Julia's views of racism, hypocrisy, control, and child abuse are both poignant and disturbing. It was enraging and difficult to read about how her so-called Jesus-loving parents beat both her black brothers in the garage, sparing her until much later.
Her relationship with her adopted brother David is beautiful. It renews my faith in the power of human connection, blood-related or not.
I finished this book in a couple of days. I left it at my doctor's office today, and had to drive to the bookstore to finish the last 2 chapters, because I was dying to know the outcome.
I highly recommend this book.
Scheeres story takes her from the Hoosier State to the Dominican Republic with only one constant in her life: her beloved brother, David, her adopted black brother. Not only is this memoir about the effect abusive religion can have on a young psyche, it's about the bond that develops between two people who go through that experience together.
First, it made mad. Really mad. I wanted to call the White House, the State Department, the Dominican Embassy, the governor of Indiana. I contemplated the 101st Airborne's helicopters flying in low over the hill and liberating the camp by force.
After a while it occurred to me that Scheeres' experience was certainly one of many. How many other children are being abused? How many have been killed in these camps? Is this really different from Chinese or Soviet re-education camps? Does anyone listen to Jesus' words when they read them in the Bible?
In the end, easy to miss that among all the hate, this is a story of the love between a girl and her brother. I rejoice that she escaped to California, got married, and had a baby! I don't think Julia Scheeres and her story will ever leave me.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good book about what it was like for a young girl to grow up in a very religious family and also dealing with racism against her adopted African American brother and being sent to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by SouthernLove
Beautiful and heartbreaking memoir. I felt as if I could picture what was happening in the book as I read it.Published 2 months ago by Lindsey
Completely engrossing, heartbreaking, and clearly told. A book I looked forward to reading and didn't put it down until I couldn't keep my eyes open. An easy, quick read.Published 14 months ago by Kaitlyn Ratterman
Too bad their parents were close-minded and the camp was abusive.Published 16 months ago by stockqueen9
Both my wife and I read this with the same response. Julia Scheeres tells her story so well that you wish that you could meet her know her as a friend.Published 16 months ago by Kindle Customer
I chose this high rating because I see myself in this memoir. I put my so call Christianity before my children. We adopted a child who turned out to be schizophrenic. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Kindle Customer
The author doesn't hold back. I'm amazed at her honesty-- especially in regards to race in her family. A stunning memoir.Published 24 months ago by MLynnWalker
Absolutely wonderful. I ran the gamut of emotions while reading this book (in two sittings, if I remember correctly). It's really and truly touching. Read morePublished on February 4, 2014 by Jagadeesh