Jesus Land

  • by Julia Scheeres
  • Narrated by Elizabeth Evans
  • 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 Caribea religious reform school in the Dominican Republicis 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.

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What the Critics Say

“Like the best writers, Scheeres offers her characters in the fullness of the contradictions they hold in tension, and with great and clear-sighted empathy, and at the end of the audiobook, the listener might say: They’re so much like me.” (Salon.com)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Story of the Most Un-Christ-like Christians

Sheeres shares jaw-dropping stories from her childhood in the mid-1980s when her Bible-obsessed parents moved their family to Indiana. Her two adopted brothers, both African-American, faced cruelty and racism in and outside the home, a 15-acre farm where the children were little more than slaves.

Christian radio served as an alarm clock at six o'clock in the morning. Spy speakers were installed around the house so that all their conversations could be heard by the mother. The violent father, whose favorite biblical injunction was "spare the rod, spoil the child" beat the sons countless times and left permanent scars.

Eventually, Sheeres and her younger brother were sent away to an over-the-top Christian boot camp in Latin America that takes a "by-any-means-necessary" approach to getting repentance from the students. You can't help but wonder if the kids are going to be killed.
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- Susie

Fascinating Listen!

What made the experience of listening to Jesus Land the most enjoyable?

I thought the reader got the essence of the author and I forgot that I wasn't listening to a young woman telling her own story. The story of conservative religion affecting young teenagers mixed with racial intolerance tell the story of our similiar South African experience with that era.

I found Julia's candidness regarding her own personal journey most affecting as well as the relationship with her brother, David. There were moments when I groaned aloud at the abuses that happened to both of them.

I could not stop listening.


What did you like best about this story?

I loved the similarity to my own growing up in a racially intolerant society - one that didn't understand teenagers at all and spent no time in changing that attitude.


What does Elizabeth Evans bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She afforded the mother a sharp, intolerant voice that I may not have been as affected by. She brought Julia to life through her complimenting the excitement, or sadness with her tone of voice.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were many because she took me back to me being a teenager. I think that every time the love that Julia had for David was related, it reminded me of the relationships that one has with one's siblings in an environment when children are trying to survive - when on the outside everything looks perfect.


Any additional comments?

I have just bought her other book. Julia fascinated me so much with her amazing resilience and her love for her brother.

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- Lisa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-27-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios