"A page turner . . . heart–stopping and enraging . . . focused, justified, and without a trace of self–pity. Shot through with poignancy." —The New York Times Book Review
Over a decade after its first publication, Jesus Land remains deeply resonant with readers. This New York Times bestselling memoir is a gripping tale of rage and redemption, hope and humor, morality and malice—and most of all, the truth: that being a good person takes more than just going to church.
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, 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.
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.
What a great book
I loved every page. The whole story was great and I couldn't put it down.