Julia Scheeres


Jesus Land

A Memoir

New York Times bestseller: An “exquisitely wrought memoir” about how “love can flourish even in the harshest climates”—for readers of The Liar’s Club and Running with Scissors (People).

This poignant, darkly funny account of two siblings—one white, one Black—growing up in the Christian fundamentalist communities of Indiana and the Dominican Republic is “one of the best memoirs in years” (Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird).

Julia and her adopted brother, David, are 16 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.
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.