Rachel's Reviews > Jesus Land

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
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May 12, 08

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Read in November, 2007

A gift from my dear sister to give me insight into my new home -- Indiana. I haven't met any folk that resemble those depicted in this book yet, but I wonder if I'd recognize them if I did - they seem somewhat caricatured in the book.

This is a memoir of a woman whose family adopted two black children, grudgingly, and proceeded to treat them badly and tolerate their poor treatment by everyone around them in rural Indiana, including the author herself. The author loves her adoptive brother, but is also embarassed by and ashamed of his blackness, and by the time they get to high school refuses to be seen with him. This makes her less sympathetic to begin with, even though she experiences much that should make you want to sympathize with her.

The two are reunited in a camp in the Dominican Republic, where their parents have sent them to suffer for their sins, in hopes of making good Christians out of them (or at least of getting them out of their hair until their old enough to be kicked out of the house).

The author's depiction of the growing bond between her and her brother is rendered somewhat incredible by her earlier admission of how she treated him at the high school -- I found myself wondering if she was remembering their relationship the way she wished it had been rather than the way it actually was.

By the time I finished the book, I no longer either liked her or believed her version of her life events much. I wonder how the people she describes -- particularly her brother -- would tell their side of the story of growing up with her?
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Are those spoilers I see in your review? If so, please remove them or flag your review as containing spoilers.


message 2: by Gina (new)

Gina Is Heather an aquaintance of yours? I thought your review was thoughtful and fair. It's not a spoiler to point out poor characterization and plotting...and how else can one do that without talking about the people and story?
For one, I am glad you diverted me from any chance of reading this book. But I worry about people in certain parts of our country who are so close-minded, they can't or won't understand a person different from them. Did you know in Kokomo, the largest KKK rally on record was held? And today in The Post I read with great chagrin that Obama staffers have been called racial slurs (whites as well as blacks) and been chased by dogs? Then of course, W. Virginia is no prize. If I were Hillary, I might be ashamed to have this state in my column....kids are let out of school on the day the hunting season begins.

While Scheers likely had good intentions that her book would heal some of this kind of racism, it does not appear she succeeded.

Reread the Chicago section of Obama's book when he first hears The Rev. Wright giva a sermon called "The Audacity of Hope." Yet even this man, who started with passion and aspirations has given a very poor example and may even have set back the ideals he once espoused.


Maggie Wagner I actually was born and raised in Lafayette, IN, which is essentially where this story takes place. I can honestly say that what is depicted in this book in no way resembles the city I know today. Now, Lafayette is somewhat of a Liberal oasis in the midst of a pretty consistently red state.


Tesla Like Maggie, I was also raised in Indiana, and the writer's accounts are very false. And that program in the Dominican Republic is NOT abusive. I was there, so trust me, I know. The staff there are wonderful and amazing and they love their students and truly want to help them. She just wanted to find a way to get attention.


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