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Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres

Jesus Land: A Memoir (2005)

by Julia Scheeres

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1,292499,703 (3.9)48
Julia and her adopted brother, David, are sixteen-years-old. Julia is white. David is black. It is the mid-1980s and their family has just moved to rural Indiana, a landscape of cottonwood trees, trailer parks, and an all-encompassing racism. At home are a distant mother--more involved with her church's missionaries than her own children--and a violent father. In this riveting and heartrending memoir Julia Scheeres takes us from the Midwest to a place beyond imagining: surrounded by natural beauty, the Escuela Caribe--a religious reform school in the Dominican Republic--is characterized by a disciplinary regime that extracts repentance from its students by any means necessary. Julia and David strive to make it through these ordeals and their tale is relayed here with startling immediacy, extreme candor, and wry humor.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
The moving survival story of a girl and her adopted brother's journey through an extremely dysfunctional and extremely religiously conservative family, the second half of the book being concerned with their survival in a hellish Christian "private school" run in The Dominican Republic. The "school" reminded me of Jonestown, and I've heard that the author's next book will actually be on Jonestown, which I think is fitting. ( )
  DF1158 | Oct 20, 2019 |

This is a memoir of growing up with parents who adhered to a religious fundamentalism but who were abusive to their children. Scheeres was the youngest child in the family, and the last biological child born to her parents, who subsequently adopted two African American boys. David, was practically Julia’s twin, with only a month or so difference in their birthdates. They grew up as brother and sister, and shared dreams of one day growing up and moving to Florida together. When David and Julia were teens, they rebelled against their strict upbringing with the result that their parents sent them to a school in the Dominican Republic – a sort of “boot camp” to get them right with Jesus.

The first half of the book details their childhood and early school experiences. The racial prejudice aimed at David, and from which Julia tried to protect her brother, with the result that she was also ostracized in their small midwestern town.

The second half of the book focuses on the time they spent at Escuela Caribe, and what they had to endure there to “prove” to the people running the school and to their parents that they “deserved” to return to their home in Indiana.

Their mother was clearly neglectful, ignoring the children’s complaints of mistreatment at school, and barely providing them with food, shelter and clothing. But their father. He may have been a surgeon, but he was physically abusive, particularly to the adopted boys. Why was he never prosecuted!?!?!

Yet the love she and David shared, the unbreakable bond of brother and sister, shine through. Towards the end of their time at Escuela Caribe, she writes:
We are young, and we have our entire lives ahead of us. Together, we have survived racism and religion. Together, we are strong. Together, we can do anything.
Life may not be fair, but when you have someone to believe in, life can be managed, and sometimes, even miraculous.
After everything else falls away, we shall remain brother and sister. Family.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jun 27, 2019 |
Julia and her two adopted brothers don't have it easy. Her parents are ultra religious and take it out more on the boys than Julia. They don't know that every time they beat her older brother, he repays Julia for their abuse. While she adores her younger brother, they have their differences too. She is white and both brothers are black. Eventually, the parents send Julia and her younger brother, David, away to an incredibly strict camp to have the righteousness brought back into their lives.

Incredible book, very sad ending. ( )
  bookwormteri | Jul 10, 2018 |
All I can say is this woman is a survivor! ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
This started just a little slow for me, but within a couple of chapters, I was riveted. The book is very well-written, with a steady, honest voice -- so honest, in fact, that it was like having a new friend open up to you about her terrible, tragic-in-some-ways-but-funny-in-others childhood.

I highly recommend sitting down with this book and a few glasses of wine on an evening when you've got a few free hours. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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It's just after three o'clock when we hit County Road 50.
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Released in UK as Another Hour on a Sunday Morning (2005)
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