Jesus Land: A Memoir
by Julia Scheeres
Sinners go to: HELL. Rightchuss go to: HEAVEN. The end is neer: REPENT. This here is: JESUS LAND.
Julia Scheeres stumbles across these signs along the side of a cornfield while out biking with her adopted brother, David. It's the mid-1980s, they're sixteen years old and have just moved to rural Indiana, a landscape of cottonwood trees and trailer parks-and a racism neither of them is prepared for. While Julia is white, her close relationship with David, who is black, makes them both outcasts. At home, a distant mother-more involved with her church's missionaries than with her own children-and a violent father only compound their problems. When the day comes that high-school hormones, bullying, and a deep-seated restlessness prove too much to bear, the parents send Julia and David to the Dominican Republic-to a reform school there.
In this riveting memoir, first-time author Scheeres takes us with her from the Midwest to a place beyond our imagining. Surrounded by natural beauty, the Escuela Caribe is governed by a disciplinary regime that demands its teens repent for their sins under boot-camp conditions. Julia and David's determination to make it through with heart and soul intact is told here with immediacy, candor, sparkling humor, and not a note of malice.
I liked the first half of this book a lot more than the second. In the second half the two main characters are in a reform school and the horrible tales seem to repeat themselves. Overall though, a decent book... that made me cry a few times... Easy quick read.
= I Liked It