Consuelo Mendoza's Reviews > Jesus Land: A Memoir

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres
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really liked it

Julia Scheeres' Jesus Land tells the story of Julia and her brother David, both sixteen-year-olds of different races who are insulted and humiliated due to their love for each other as brother and sister. This book is set up on the rural part of Indiana during the 1980's, when racism was still in abundance within our society. Searching for freedom from their violent father and their mother, who cares more about the church than she cares about her own children, Julia and David fight through various obstacles to reach their life-long dream, Florida. Julia and David try their hardest to make it through their hardships, obstacles that include racism, delinquency, physical abuse, mental abuse, and the persistence of others to separate them. The book highlights how far racism could drive someone in the 1980's, which can make this memoir seem as if it were fiction.

A memorable event would be the time when Julia, now affected by the humiliation coming from her classmates, denies being David's real sister, not knowing that David was standing right behind her. Her close friend, Elaine, criticized David on a daily basis and Julia saw this as an opportunity to fit in with her classmate. David, ashamed of being African-American, starts cutting his hair in a way that makes him look "whiter" and he starts to wear blue contacts, so he can look more like Julia. Julia, ashamed of her actions, apologizes and suggests him to return to his normal self.

Ultimately, the story of Julia and David Scheeres is the story of two teenagers adapting to a surprisingly cruel society, loving each other without regarding their different race and finding their way to a world with no judgement or rules, a world they call "Florida". It all adds up to a tale of ignorance and cruelty, two concepts that contribute to the non-vanishing racism around the world. Jesus Land, tells that story very well, revealing that sometimes we have to learn and play society's game to reach the place we have always dreamed of.

After finishing Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres, I would recommend it to those who are interested in knowing how life really was in the 1980's, especially when it comes to racism. At some point, the reader has to be mature about many concepts, since a few of the events can be uncomfortable to read. However, David Scheeres, who became my favorite person throughout the story, can warm your heart as he protects his sister Julia, or, as he calls her, "Ju-la-la", from all sorts of danger and as he tries to fit in with a racist society, who does nothing but use God as their excuse to exclude African-Americans. Julia Scheeres teaches a lesson for those who struggle on a daily basis; as David represents hope, she represents audacity. Overall, their story is worth reading about.

Various life lessons can come from Jesus Land, but I think the most important life lesson is learning how to play society's game to get to where you want to be. When Julia and David tried to confront their parents and disagree with "God's beliefs", all they got in return was physical abuse and a bad reputation. Because they were still young, all they were expected to do was behave and be good religious children. Eventually, they realized, once they got to Escuela Caribe, that fighting against adults did no good, suggesting that, if they did as they were told for enough time, the wait for their eighteenth birthday would be less painful.

Reading about Julia and David Scheeres' brother and sister relationship, and being an older sister myself, allowed me to feel Julia's sadness when her brother was hurt, as well as her happiness when they spent time together after a difficult situation. It made me feel thankful for the family I have, realizing that other people today might have a father just as abusive or a mother just as careless as theirs. Their story also made me feel that everything happens for a reason and that, with the right determination, one can surpass many obstacles.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 20, 2013 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Persephone (new)

Persephone A+++++ review yo. Ballin

message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Chavez Great review! Makes me interested in reading the book

message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Bravo Nice!

message 4: by Sabrina (new) - added it

Sabrina Resendiz Good review!!

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