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.
A Memoir (With a New Preface by the Author)
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Winner of the 2006 American Library Association Alex Award
JULIA SCHEERES has a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times and Wired, and has twice been a finalist for journalism awards presented by the USC Annenberg School for Communication. She is also the author of A Thousand Lives. Scheeres lives in San Francisco, California.
Praise for Jesus Land
“[An] exquisitely wrought memoir, Scheeres emerged with sensibilities intact and learned that love can flourish even in the harshest climates.” —People
“Julia Scheere’s engrossing debut won over most of our readers… a reminder that what matters most is not just the tale but the telling.” —ELLE
“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… 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.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“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 writing is Dickensian in its blend of the tender, the brutal, and the absurd.” —Booklist
“This is one of the best memoirs in years. I foisted it on friends and strangers alike, and everyone loved its marvelous story, writing, humor, truth.” —Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird