Jesus Land: A Memoir

Jesus Land: A Memoir

by Julia Scheeres

Paperback(Revised Edition)

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Jesus Land 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
SVS More than 1 year ago
Jesusland was an extremely engrossing read from start to finish. The story was told with effortless thought and detail and put me through the gamut of emotions. We read this for our book club of 6 women and they ALL loved it. So far the best book we've read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and I've never been able to forget it. I couldn't put it down either and remember just being so angry at...humanity! I have recommended it to friends and will continue to do so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first book in a LONG time I couldn't stop reading. The author did a great job at putting me in the story. I'm still thinking about it now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book! I would recommend it to my friends.
Gwen Friesen More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It was very realistic and well written!
123skidoo More than 1 year ago
Brutally, shockingly, depressingly, spellbindingly, frank. Definitely a can't-put-down-till-you're-done tale. Do not read if you can't bear to come face-to-face with your own prejudices, or if you think religion is the righteous path to enlightenment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is such a touching story. it is one of those books that stay with you forever.
SunshineNat More than 1 year ago
I don't have much else to say except wow. I read this book in one day on the beach in Hawaii during my family vacation. I was so obsessed with it I couldnt set it down for more than five minutes at a time. MUST READ!
paulkid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spare the rod and spoil the child? Seriously. This book is a great example of why it might be a bad idea to use the bible literally (or at all) when raising your kids. But I guess we knew that already. Still, if you like reading about screwed up childhoods like I do, then this is a good read for you. Or, If you're feeling like an inadequate parent, then reading this book may actually cheer you up a little, but not much.
TheAmpersand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Memoirs by people who had screwed-up childhoods are a guilty pleasure of mine, so it's hard for me to dislike "Jesus Land." Even so, Scheeres book has considerably less literary heft than say, entries in this genre from Mary Karr or Jeanette Walls. Still, "Jesus Land" is compulsively readable and often heartbreakingly sad, and it provides readers with a clear and disturbing picture of life inside Christian-themed teen recovery centers where Guantanamo-level abuses take place as a matter of course. While I'd read a few magazine articles about these sorts of teen camps, the details Scheeres provided still had the power to shock. Scheeres book also serves as an effective memorial for her brother, for whom she obviously felt a deep and abiding love. As a reader, I'm glad that she was able to get "Jesus Land" published. At the same time, there's a lot missing from Scheeres's story that might have made this a better, more insightful book. We see only a few glimpses of her father, and her older brothers and sisters are missing from this story almost entirely. Also, while Scheeres has since abandoned the faith in which she was raised, and one really can't blame her for doing so, she doesn't spend that much time explaining or critiquing it. As a former Catholic personally unfamiliar with American evangelism, some context might have been helpful. While I read "Jesus Land, I often wondered if her parents' religious values might have partly responsible for their awful parenting decisions, but Scheeres doesn't really delve in to this and lets their treatment of her more or less speak for itself. Her treatment of the racism her she and her brother suffer is similarly limited. While she makes astute observations about the racial dynamic within her own family, Scheeres doesn't spend much time trying to tie her experiences in to a larger narrative about race or explaining its deeper psychological or cultural motivations. It's possible that these criticisms are beside the point since this is, after all, an intensely personal book, and, in an interview included in my edition, Scheeres admits that she wrote it from the point of view of the teenager she used to be. Scheeres choice of viewpoint gives "Jesus Land" a certain immediacy; her descriptions of her sexual awakening are thrillingly explicit and powerful and provide a welcome and surprising counterpoint to the awful sexual violence found elsewhere in her memoir. At the same time, it often seems to limit her book thematically. She spends a surprising amount of time revisiting typical adolescent experiences that are not unique to her. I'd recommend this for fellow fans midlife memoirs, but other readers should probably start elsewhere.
megrockstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was written so eloquently it was hard to put down. The voice of the young girl just made you think she was right in front of you. Laughter at time and so sad at other times make this woman's life and memoir a fast read. I read primarily memoirs and this is definitely one of my favorites. The epilogue made me gasp!
artistlibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this ALA Alex Award Winner because I am fond of memoirs; I like to know how other people live. In her story, Julia's white Christian parents adopt two black boys, Jerome and David, seeing their attempt at a multiracial family in mid 80s Indiana as a test from God. Their dad is an absent father, a doctor, who sees fit to physically punish the boys. Their mom is more interested in the lives of Christian missionaries and doing the church's good than learning how her children's day at school went. Eventually, due to "bad behavior," (Julia will tell you the details), David and then Julia get shipped off to a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic. It proves to be a dumping ground for teenagers whose parents were more devoted to God than loving and raising their children. Julia and David begin by surviving racist Indiana together. They then rely on one another again at Escuela Caribe, determined to get by and get out. It's a simply written tale of sibling love and necessity. A true testament to our own fallacies as human beings as well as our strengths and triumphs.
swl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Critiquing a memoir is difficult, because it's hard not to consider the life lived as well as how it's presented when evaluating it. In that light the second half of the book is more engaging than the first. I'm only a few years older than JS, so the midwestern hick world she describes is somewhat familiar and depressing. But I certainly never went to Christian reform school and found that part of the story gripping.The big story, of course, is composed of racism, religious fanaticism, and family dynamics - topics which will never go out of style. If this was a novel, maybe there would be a way to have a really satisfying retribution scene against any or all of these evils. In memoirs, it seems that the narrator's usual revenge is limited to merely living well. And this is as it should be - I don't know if dramatic smiting of enemies is a therapeutically useful reaction - but it does make for a possibly-less-satisfying read.My son's English teacher considers readers like me to be "plot junkies", and that may be true. If what you ask from your book is a thoughtful revealing of humanity and its lessons, then this may be a 5-star book. Lowbrow that I am, I found it just a bit unsatisfying.
chersbookitlist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! What a story! How this woman survived to tell about what happened to her is amazing. I have read no better book exposing the hypocrisy of rigid Christian fundamentalism, and its divergence from the true teachings of Jesus. This one is all the better because of the visceral and painful personal tragedy that unfolds for this woman in her family of origin.
midlevelbureaucrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Riveting. Heart breaking. Shocking. Difficult to put down. Very different from what I thought it would be, but a wonderful memoir of a 16 year old girl and her brother, revealing the unseemly underside of evangelical Christianity, racism, and parenting. Don't miss the chance to read this one.
Lexicographer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Julia Scheers has written a heartbreaking memoir about her childhood in a ultra-religious, racially-mixed family in 1980s Indiana. Mostly, though, what she has written is a testament to her adopted brother David, an explanation of her experience of their shared yet deeply disparate childhoods and a heart-felt account of her love for him. The book is shocking and horrific, but also deeply human, in its reminder of how much love can matter even in the most torturous of circumstances.
whoot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A riveting, if disturbing, book. Couldn't put it down, but I was never sure if it was because I was so appalled or because I still held out hope that something would get better or someone would help. The amount of abuse and racism that occurs under the guise of Christianity is unbelievable!!! This reminded me a lot of Glass Castle - two lives where the parents are crazy and out of control but the children prove resilient. It would be fascinating to know more about Scheere's journey after this segment of her life - recovering from these incidents could not have been trivial!!
autumnesf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A memoir on interracial adoption, child abuse and fanatical religion. Not easy subject matter but very well written. I couldn't put it down.
misfev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Could not put this book down. It was definately a page turner. But it was also like watching a train wreck. You couldn't wait to read the next page, but yet you were almost afraid too. This book was unfortunately a memoir about a girl and her adopted black brother. The family moves to Indiana in the 80's, which incredibly is still rife with racism. Their mother is a psycho, and dad is violent. Especially to the adopted black brothers. It goes from the midwest to a real religious reform school in the Dominican Republic. It is also full of dark humor, which I love.
coolmama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heartbreaking, shocking, could not stop reading it.WOW is all I can say.Julia's memoir to her adopted African American brother in her furvently religious household was really draining (but yet compelling) to read.Incredible that she chose to go on, really.
itbgc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read this book because several of my nephews (doctor's kids) lived in Escuela Caribe--the "Christian" reform school in the Dominican Republic. The author was there in the mid-1980s, and my nephews were there very recently at separate times. From what I gather, unfortunately, things haven't changed much at the school. Now I'm ready to have a conversation with my nephews about this place--if they'll let me. This is quite a shocking book. Why hasn't Escuela Caribe been shut down? I assume it's because it is in the DR. I do recommend reading this book, but it is quite explicit.
julierh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a gripping, painful, and incredibly well-written memoir about religious fundamentalism, family dysfunction, and the devotion the author feels for her younger brother
TanyaTomato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So very good. Julia is so brave to write this wonderful book about growing up with her adopted black brother, and reform school experience.
kewpie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a lot of trouble finishing this book. First of all, I was surprised that considering how bitter and jaded the author was against Indiana, that this book would be considered for an Elliot Rosewater nominee. The author paints a very grim picture of the Lafayette area. I was shocked at the racist portrayals that seemingly everyone in the area suposedly has. Even her school teachers were openly anti-semetic and racist against African Americans. I worked really hard to get through her awful description of Hoosier life to get to her being sent to the Dominican Republic -- that section seemed even more outrageous than the first. I did some internet searching. Lo and behold, several people who previously attended the camp backed up her story. It didn't make it any more endearing to me. I think most of what she wrote would have been better for a private journal to be shared with a mental health councillor rather than the general public. I understand that she went through a horrible ordeal, but her vitriol was almost unbearable.
alanna1122 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A disturbing memoir about a teenager growing up with two adopted black brothers in rural Indiana. one brother and the author are sent to a Christian Reform school in the Domincan Republic where they survive an incredibly abusive program. This novel was really well written and engaging. I think it is the first time I have read a memoir and kept thinking to myself - I really really wish this was fiction - much of it is too horrible to contemplate someone living through. The author has great tenacity though and is able to write about her life with great clarity and insight into those who treated her so poorly in her younger years. I hope that she has a great life now filled with people who love her... no child should grow up the way she did.