Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: Jesus Land

I LOVE it when I start a book that ends up being so engrossing that I literally can't put it down or stop thinking about it when I am forced to concentrate on other important matters, like my job. Jesus Land, a memoir by Julia Scheeres, was all this and more.

I've wanted to read this book ever since I was fascinated and horrified by Scheeres' other novel, A Thousand Lives, and it's this month's office book club pick, so I grabbed it from the library Monday night and it immediately sucked me in. I was raised Catholic and am no longer religious, but I have an intense fascination with religious fanaticism and what many people are willing to do "in the name of God." (Have you read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer? It will totally creep you out. I also recommend The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.)

Jesus Land has a much different, more casual and personal tone than A Thousand Lives, of course because it's a memoir written in first-person perspective, which I really enjoyed. It follows Julia and her adopted brother, David, from their parents' fundamentalist home to a Christian reform school deep in the Dominican Republic. Brother and sister -- black and white -- each struggle through the usual trials of adolescence with the added pressures of racism that neither of them can understand.

Although this book is altogether horrifying, Scheeres somehow manages to tell her story with humor and hope weaved throughout. She illustrates the sustaining power of love and family... and that the notion of "family" often has absolutely nothing to do with blood.

I absolutely enjoyed every single page of this book, and I think Scheeres is an amazing writer. I really hope she publishes more books in the future.

What are your plans for the weekend? Are you watching the Super Bowl?

3 comments :

  1. This sounds like an incredibly interesting book! I am a Christian, but I totally agree with you how scary religious fanaticism can be. Thankfully, there can be healthy religious views as well. I think I'm going to read this book.

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  2. Wow, sounds like an amazing read. I'm not going to watch the super bowl - in fact I didn't really realise it was happening! (And I can't blame this on being in Australia either...I wouldn't know if I lived in the US as well).

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  3. thanks for the book rec. i read Under the Banner of Heaven years ago and couldn't put it down. Great read!

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