Jesus Land: A Memoir

Julia Scheeres

Content Warning: Sexual assault, racism, abuse.

I’ve been sitting on reviewing this book for a while, wondering if I should even post about it. And then I realized that I started this account to document all the books I read because I loved the idea of having a visual tracker. I also feel like it’s important to share my own personal thoughts, even just so I can say it out loud.

This book was a brutal read. Julia Scheeres is no doubt a talent, bringing the settings of her childhood and adolescence to life in visceral ways that make you feel as though you are sitting in a corner bearing witness to it all, making it a really uncomfortable read. Between the brutality and racism her adopted Black brothers had to endure at the hands of their white, evangelical parents or the abuse they suffered through the “Jesus Camp” in the Carribean, it was pretty relentless. But it was the sexual assault she had to live through at hands of several different men that shook me the most.

They say 1 in 4 women has been assaulted, but I know it’s higher. Sexual assault exists on a gradient, and there are so many areas of gray when we talk about sexual assualt and consent. The passages where she describes the assault were so triggering for me because she describes it with surgical precision that made it seem out of body, a common survival tactic amongst survivors. And even as I write this now, I do it with some detachment, like that’s not me, I don’t know that, but I do. Many of us do. And when I was reading this book, I was really unprepared for it.

And I write this not wanting to take away from this book or be like “don’t read it.” She is astoundingly honest in telling the story of her and her brothers, it will never leave your mind. And there is so much love here, of course, because ultimately she is writing this for her brother David. Maybe if I had better content warnings going in the experience would have hit differently. But I brought my own personal lens into this, and it shaped my experience in a way I didn’t expect.

Jesus Land A Memoir Julia Scheeres
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