- Series: Alex Awards (Awards)
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Counterpoint; 1st Edition edition (September 6, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582433380
- ISBN-13: 978-1582433387
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 231 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jesus Land: A Memoir (Alex Awards (Awards)) Hardcover – September 6, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Journalist Scheeres offers a frank and compelling portrait of growing up as a white girl with two adopted black brothers in 1970s rural Indiana, and of her later stay with one of them at a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic. The book takes its title from a homemade sign that Scheeres and the brother closest to her in age and temperament, David, spot one day on a road in the Hoosier countryside, proclaiming, "This here is: JESUS LAND." And while religion is omnipresent both at their school and in the home of their devout parents, the two rarely find themselves the beneficiaries of anything resembling Christian love. One of the elements that make Scheeres's book so successful is her distanced, uncritical tone in relaying deeply personal and clearly painful events from her life. She powerfully renders episodes like her attempted rape at the hands of three boys, the harsh beatings administered to David by her father and the ceaseless racial taunting by schoolmates; her lack of perceivable malice or vindictiveness prevents readers from feeling coerced into sympathy. The same can be said for Scheeres's description of their Dominican school, where humiliation and physical punishment are meant to redeem the allegedly misguided pupils. Tinged with sadness yet pervaded by a sense of triumph, Scheeres's book is a crisply written and earnest examination of the meaning of family and Christian values, and announces the author as a writer to watch.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the name of religion, Scheeres and her adopted black brother, David, suffer cruel abuse, first in their Calvinist home in Indiana in the 1970s and then when their surgeon father and missionary-minded mother send the teens to a fundamentalist Dominican Republic reform school that is run like boot camp. The self-righteous sermonizing would be hilarious if it were not the justification for vicious punishment. The racism is open, from the other kids and from authority. Scheeres tries to find comfort in drink and in sex with a classmate ("His heat and his desire they comfort me. I shall not want"). What is unforgettable is the tenderness between sister and brother, as uplifting as any sermon. Their relationship is never sentimentalized: She is ashamed of the times she turns her back on him, tired of being called "nigger-lover . . . the black boy's sister," but they help each other through the worst with horseplay, humor, and courage. The writing is Dickensian in its blend of the tender, the brutal, and the absurd. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I want to thank Julia Scheeres for being rawly vulnerable and in so doing, allowing us to feel, taste, hear, smell, and see the oftentimes ugly events of her childhood and teenage years. This book is yet another volume that I could not put down. Well, I did put it down in order to sleep, but it was just a two day read. Yes, I blocked out the universe as I fell into the despair and hope of young children. I so desperately wanted to jump right into her early life and knock some common sense into those who held physical power over her life. I am so thankful that Ms. Scheeres is now leading a healthy life, free of the craziness that others tried unsuccessfully to imbue into her soul.
Yes, get this book. Read "Jesus Land" to understand a little boy's and a little girl's survival in the face of craziness. Read it to hone your senses and pick up on cues of what may be taking place in your lives today. Read it because you must find inspiration in how normal, typical human beings can overcome what can truly be described as brainwashing, emotional torture, and horrible physical abuse.
Once you finish reading this book, read Ms. Scheeres other book on the Jim Jones/People's Temple massacre in Guyana, A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown. In this second book, Ms. Scheeres provides the most detailed and historical accounting of the Jonestown massacre available.
But Julia's life is also complicated by her parents' zealous religious values and determination that their children follow the way of the Lord. Julia's mother is a religious fanatic and zealous without apology. She is also abusive towards her own children and also doesn't display signs of love or affection.
In reading this memoir, I began to understand Julia's point of view. She was driven to her behavior which landed her in a horrible concentration camp called Escuela Caribe or return to her parents' home. She chose the religious camp in the Dominican Republic because her brother, David, was already there and he couldn't warn her about it, escape or come home.
Once there, Julia's memoir comes alive with horrifying details of abuse, punishment, and a discipline style that reminds me of Jesus Camp but much worse. Everybody can rat each other out and gain points to move to the next level.
In conclusion, Julia has written a tribute to her beloved David, her brother. This book is about sibling relationships that became stronger even in the toughest of times. I would strongly recommend this book to anybody.
I would have just recommended that she added pictures or maps of the Escuela Caribe to help understand the layout if possible or even a map of Indiana as well.