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Jesus Land

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message 1: by Linda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Linda Jesus Land is quite well written. However, it was hard to believe it was actually a memoir. Are you kidding? This all really happened? It wasn't exactly my kind of "read" but became compelling to finish just the same. Scheeres tried to make way too much happen in the last 10 pages or so. I was disappointed. I also needed an update on current familial relationships after reading the turmoil they endured.


message 2: by Laurie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laurie Bridges If you go to her website you can see in her blog...the last time she saw Jerome was at David's funeral, "Scott" is a janitor in Kentucky, she is estranged from her parents, and she has a very close relationships with her two older sisters.


message 3: by Moore (new)

Moore Kenneth I need to read this book, how do i read it so that i can comment on it.


Dawn I have to confess I do not really know the difference between a memoir and a biographical work. However, it did cross my mind as to how Ms Scheere's could possiblly have remembered all the detail of events and conversations as a teenager. Though I do not believe she is lying about the major events - but I think she must have put in some artistic licence somewhere.

I also needed an update Linda - interesting you felt the need for it too! I googled and found her blog, but it still didn't satisfy. The book left me with too many questions. There was nothing redemptive or triumphal in the book to bring closure - but if that is how it is then that is how it is. But Ms Scheeres makes no attempt to bring any good out it.

FWIW, my own review on this book reads like this:

At the end of her book, Ms Scheeres states that through her experiences she learnt to put people over dogma. But some months after I had read this book, I began to wonder whether the author had herself unwittingly put her own dogma over people, and it has left me with queries and unresolved questions, rather than closure on the abuse she suffered.

I read this book quite quickly as in some ways I couldn't put it down. I was completely drawn into it. I largely believe what Ms Scheere's has written is true. However, after a few months I began to rewind on a few things and some bits didn't add up - not that I think Ms Scheere's is lying (she was badly abused and abused people can lack the ability to process things correctly), but it did cross my mind that maybe she put her own spin on certain events, and I came to the conclusion there is some teenage perception in the book. But it is very cleverly written. Ms Scheeres is a good writer.

First the photos in the book (and also on her website) didn't quite support the picture Ms Scheeres painted however - they seem to tell a slightly different story to the one she told. The pretty clothes on Julia and David; the birthday cake; the toys (all signs of parental love and care); the smiles. Then there were bits she seemed to gloss over and bits which were confusing (such as: were the family rich or poor? - the father's Ferrari indicates rich, but the mother's frugality over food and clothes at K-mart seemed to suggest poor? yet they must have been rich to afford private schooling at Escuela Caribe?)...... and no acknowledgement was ever given to her parents when they naively invested so much trust in their three remaining teenage children by leaving them alone while they went away for a weekend, only to return having had their trust totally betrayed. And do American police really arrest minors for being out after curfew?

Then there was the stereo-typing of everyone she considered a "jerk" and I began to re-think over what I had read, and although the book has little evident traces of raw bitterness in it, scraping away the surface there is something which left me feeling uneasy. I am interested to read words such as "sneering" and "contempt" in other people's reviews, and these are words which crept in to mind about the book several months after I had read it and after I had got over the initial shock of it all.

Despite the love story Ms Scheeres tells between her and David, the book is quite self-centred in many ways. The author does not connect in anyway with her parents or contemplate the reasons they became abusive, and there is no admission that her own behaviour going behind her parent's back as a teenager may have affected her parents in any way. This is unusual for a Journalist who is a parent herself. Usually, journalists like to look at the other side of the story.

Her parents raised six children in all - two of them adopted. The mother didn't seem to bond with any of her children - particularly Julia and the adopted borthers. Yet at the beginning of the book it all seems full of hope. Maybe the mother lost hope as she lost control of her family, and she lost the ability to connect with her children with her pre-occupation with missionaires (a kind of escapism for her). There's just nothing from Julia to connect with her mother as a woman - just a stone wall against her mother despite her mother's plea "all my problems" - there's no understanding or compassion demonstrated.

At the beginning of the book she described her family as "God fearing" - and this shows that initially the family seemed fairly functional. But Ms Scheeres makes no attempt to try and understand why the family descended into a dysfunctional state - or take any responsibility whatsover for her part in it.

Then there is the matter of the ex-communication from her church - while this must have been a bitter rejection to her, I do not understand in view of the fact she has lost her faith and she despises the Calvinist sub-culture she grew up in so much, why she would cherish belonging to a church she never intends to attend ever again?

The book needed some kind of postscript. There's no closure for the reader - but maybe that's what the author wants. The absence of any reasoning about her past makes the book just a diary which hangs out a family's dirty washing publicly, as opposed to being a book of any real worth or a discloure of abuse which recognises the factors which create abusive situations.

The author did succeed in making me love David though, and making me feel very sorry and sad for him. And I concluded the author must be estranged from her parents, as no-one could write a book like that about their parents if they are in any kind of relationship with them.


message 5: by Ola (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ola Dawn wrote: "I have to confess I do not really know the difference between a memoir and a biographical work. However, it did cross my mind as to how Ms Scheere's could possiblly have remembered all the detail ..."

There are so many points made in this review I disagree with that I do not know where to start. Why is it that Dawn presumes that because Ms Scheeres states that she was 'God Fearing' that she automatically came from a fairly functional family? I feel that if you do your research you will find that a majority of homes that deliver serial killers to us are also 'God fearing.'It is ludicrous to presume that because people declare themselves to be Christian they are automatically good and 'functional'.

How does looking at the photos tell a different story? I have seen photos of child beaming from ear to ear, who unfortunately, was beaten and abused until she died and hte photo in question happnened to have been taken on an abuse free day. I feel that Julia and David made the most of their childhood whilst they could despite the alienation and abuse they both suffered.
Regarding the book being self centred.. it is a memoir- it is written mainly from Ms Scheeres point of view. The memoir is about HER life we are each the centre of our own lives until we maybe have kids but even then who else's point of view was she supposed to tell her life story from? That is the whole point of a memoir. It is surely a collection of memories- always relative but nevertheless full of the individual's internal truth. That is what made the book such a joy to read... its authenticity.
Another thing that shocks me about the review above is that Dawn has presumed because the children had pretty clothes and birthday cakes that means there childhood could not have been that bad, how extraordinarily superficial to presume that unless a child is in rags he or she is not being abused!I also find it incredibly patronising to Ms Scheeres that Dawn states "she was badly abused and abused people can lack the ability to process things correctly" Where did you do your research Dawn? Trauma has different effects on different people.
I feel that your expectation of their being nothing 'triumphal' enough for you in the books conclusion means that you do not understand the difference between fiction and non fiction. Life rarely unfolds like a neatly staged Hollywood movie. Life leaves questions unanswered and many 'what ifs'
Regarding the family's wealth what makes you think that just because people are rich they can't be tightfisted and mean? You also applaud the parents for sending the children to a prison that would have put Alcatraz to shame and blame Julia for not being grateful that her parents spent a large amount of money paying people to abuse her and her brother.
I could go on, but as someone who went through parallel experiences as a child. I deeply admire Ms Scheeres bravery, strength and loyalty to the children she and David once were. Rather than put her down and questioning the veracity of her own life story. I think her work should be celebrated.


message 6: by Dawn (last edited Aug 31, 2012 01:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn Thank you for those insights Ola. Yes you make some valid points.

I am not accusing Julia of lying - in fact I found the book totally authentic from beginning to end.

It was more a question of perspective. I have no doubt her parents were abusive - but I also acknowledge that maybe at the beginning when David and Julia were small, Mr & Mrs Scheeres did their best and had high hopes for their young family (they had already brought up three older children I believe, so there were three left - Julia and the two adopted black boys).

But as time went on, and because of their religious bigotry, and their personal inadequacies and indoctrinated minds, her parents failed their children badly (I sense they were too absorbed in missionary work, and also tired of kids in the house needing care and attention probably having brought up three already) - but I sensed that Julia picked up in the early days that her parents had principles and were quite brave to adopt two black boys in a sub-culture which was so blatently racist. She certainly commended her parents for going against the grain on this issue at the beginning of her book.

So it is sad all round that the whole thing went pear-shaped. Trauma is a terrible thing, and it can take years to surface fully. I didn't do any research on trauma you are right, but that Julia was traumatised by what happened is very evident.

I think when I wrote that review I was questioning whether her parents intentions were really bad ones when the family was young - I do not believe they were bad intentions (hence my observations about the little signs of love I saw in the pics - I believe these were genuine expressions of parental love and care. Unloved children do not have birthday parties).

But as time went on the parents became more and more obsessed with their religion and neglected their children (the black boys were kept in the basement out of sight out of mind it seems), and as the children turned into teenagers and started to mistrust their parents and misbehave behind their backs (for whatever reason), the relationship between parents and children were irrepairably broken. The schooling was mean to repair that break, but failed because the parents believed lies.

I felt there was nothing redemptive about the story, but then there are isn't anything redemptive about some stories so maybe this is one of them and they just end badly, but it was sad there was no hope or healing at all.

Maybe I should review my review now that time has passed, especially now that I myself have come through an emotional breakdown which lasted some 20 months due to mild spiritual and emotional abuse which I suffered myself 20 and 30 decades ago.


Dawn OK - I revised my Review somewhat (it's even longer now!) But I altered it to this:

For anyone left feeling damaged and sad after reading this book, I recommend reading "Thin Places - A Memoir" by Mary E Demuth as an antidote.

At the end of her book, Ms Scheeres states that through her experiences she learnt to put people over dogma. But some months after I had read this book, I began to wonder whether the author had herself unwittingly put her own dogma over people, and it has left me with queries and unresolved questions, rather than closure on the abuse she suffered.

The author never acknowledges any personal responsibility for outcomes, or acknowledges that as a teenager she had made some wrong choices and decisions in her young life (which she clearly did - particularly in regard to sexual behaviour and alcohol). Abused people often turn to sex and alcholol to numb pain, but many abused people rise above it.

I read this book quite quickly as in some ways I couldn't put it down. I was completely drawn into it. However, I do believe there is some teenage perception in the book. Even the author admits that by the time she had finished the book she was fed-up of her 17-year old self.

I felt sad that some of the photos in the book - especially the ones where Julia and David were little - were so full of hope and parental love and care (David's 3rd birthday party with the cake and the lovely clothes they were wearing) and yet these positive things descended so quickly into a dysfunctional family state.

I understand the author's opinion of religious people as losers, but I did feel she stereotyped them too much over all.

There is no ackowledgement in the book that she and her brothers made choices, and that choices produce outcomes. Not that this excuses the awful parental abuse, but there is no ackolwedgement that the choices they made (such as having a drinks party and sex in her parent's bedroom while they were away for the weekend) could have provoked it. The author does not connect in anyway with her parents or contemplate why they became abusive, and there is no admission that her own behaviour going behind her parent's back as a teenager may have made her parents irrationally angry. This is unusual for a Journalist who is a parent herself. Usually, journalists like to look at the other side of the story.

Her parents raised six children in all - two of them adopted. The mother didn't seem to bond with any of her children - particularly Julia and the adopted brothers. Yet at the beginning of the book it all seems so full of hope. Maybe the mother lost hope as she lost control of her family, and she lost the ability to connect with her children with her pre-occupation with missionaries (a kind of escapism for her). There's just nothing from Julia to connect with her mother as a woman - just a stone wall against her mother despite her mother's plea "all my problems" - there's no understanding or compassion demonstrated. I would like to have known what Julia's mothers problems were. Maybe she was desperately lonely, maybe she was abused by her husband herself who knows. I felt for Julia's mother because I know how in these awful religious homes the "wife must submit to her husband" and the apathy of Mrs Scheers, and her plea about "all her problems" seem to point that she was unhappy deep down. So it's no surprising her abilities as a mother were lacking, and that she sought solace in the escapism her fictional missionary children offered.

However, at the beginning of the book Ms Scheeres initially described her family as "God fearing" and she commends her parents for being brave and adopting two black boys in a sub-culture which was so racist. I admire Julia for acknowledging this.

Regarding matter of the ex-communication from her church - it is my belief that churches should never ever ex-communicate anyone. It is totally unnecessary to ex-communicate people even if they do not attend. This was very cruel.

I felt the book needed some kind of postscript as there was no closure or anything to give the reader any insights into overcoming such an awful past. Though I acknowledge that there is nothing redemptive in some stories.

The author did succeed in making me love David though, and making me feel very sorry and sad for him. I liked very much the sibling love they shared and found that redemptive, but there was little else redemptive about the book.

I concluded the author must be estranged from her parents, as no-one could write a book like that about their parents if they are in any kind of relationship with them.

However, as Memoirs go, I preferred "Bad Blood" by Lorna Sage, and "The Boy with No Shoes" by William Horwood, and particularly "Thin Places - A Memoir" by Mary E DeMuth.

Having suffered an emotional breakdown myself which lasted for 20 months - part of which was the result of mild spiritual and emotional abuse in a narrow-minded sect - I can relate to Julia's anger and pain, and her loss of faith. I do feel though that forgiveness is important. Forgiveness is not exclusively a "christian" thing - it is a choice. Forgiveness is not justice. I hope that Julia can make the journey of choosing to forgive her parents because that would be a postscript which would offer some hope for other people who have suffered abuse.

http://theforgivenessproject.com/abou...


Dawn I also upped it a star as it was well written.


Melissa Although I definitely think that she could remember things clearly that happened in childhood or adolescence, and I definitely think all this could have happened I had some questions about the parent's treatment of the older sisters - were they treated badly. She did not address this at ALL.


Heather Anderson American police really do arrest minors for being out after curfew. Curfew was 10:00pm where I lived, and we escaped them several times, usually by hurdling fences in people's backyards.


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