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Jesus Land: A Memoir Paperback – November 1, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Julia Scheeres has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, El Financiero, and Wired, and has twice been a finalist for journalism awards presented by the USC Annenberg School for Communication. She lives in Oakland, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582433542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582433547
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julia Scheeres is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jesus Land, a memoir about her relationship with her adopted black brother David. The brother and sister grew up in a small Indiana town and, as teens, were sent to a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic together. The book explores the themes of race, fundamentalist religion, and the sustaining bond of sibling love.

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I can say with complete and total honesty that it must have taken Julia tremendous amount of courage to write this book. How can I say that? I was also in the school in the Dominican Republic. The horrors, the abuse. It's real. Though I do not know her personally, I know her story from the school all too well. I'm proud that she has taken a stand and shed light on this horrible place.
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Format: Paperback
This is a page-turning memoir that will stay with you long after the last words of the last pages are read. The author writes of her tragic childhood with unbelievably honest prose, resulting in a powerful memoir that leaves the reader speechless. This is a must-read story of family, race, religion, and the bonds of love that hold us all together.
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Format: Paperback
"Jesus Land" by Julia Scheeres is one of those rare books that one can read in a day, given enough free time. It is lucidly written, engaging, and very troubling. Fans of memoirs/biographies will likely enjoy "Jesus Land," though it reads like a novel, so fiction lovers will enjoy it as well.

"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.
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By G. Leigh on December 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Julia Scheeres' memoir has easily become one of my absolute favorites. The reader should be warned: this book is incredibly painful to read and will leave the reader feeling rancorous for the entire Midwest, every religious fanatic and, inevitably, Julia Scheeres. However, above all else, this is a beautifully chronicled story of the unbreakable bond between her and David-- her brother and best friend-- that ends up being a truly rewarding and life-affirming experience.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished Jesus Land. It is going to take some time for me to recover from this powerful book.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This book reduced me to tears at several points, probably because of my several shared experiences with the author. Jesus Land is the well written story of growing up under an oppressive, twisted, and abusive form of religion in America's Heartland. It's the story about how religion can bring out the best and the worst in people -- although mostly the latter is drawn out of the characters in 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.
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Format: Paperback
I spent much more time reflecting on this book than it took to read it.

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.
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