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Critical Praise

"The road out of an intolerant small town leads straight to a faith-based reform school in journalist Scheeres’s scarifying memoir . . . A bristly summoning of unpretty events, conveyed with remarkable placidity."


"The grace and emotional brawn that carried Julia Scheeres through the pummeling brutality of her youth has enabled her to tell the tale with a measured intensity that pulls you to her side and keeps you there. I could not stop reading this book."

——Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff

"This book will break your heart and mend it again. Julia Scheeres peels back the shiny, plastic veneer of fundamentalist Christianity to reveal the intolerance, hypocrisy and cruelty that can lie beneath. She does this with a merciless eye for detail, and an uncanny ability to evoke the essence of the Midwest. However, it is the exquisite candor and humor which makes Jesus Land so worth the reading. That, and the simple human love that shines out of every page"

——Lisa Reardon, author of Billy Dead and The Mercy Killers

"In this brilliant, sorrow-filled, race-tangled memoir, Ms. Scheeres story-telling skill makes you cheer for her and her adopted brother every step of the way as they navigate a cruel childhood. You will especially love the well-written sections about Ms. Scheeres' exile to a Dominican Republic reform school--inhabited by many emotionally-uneven adults who prove the adage that some Christians are too heavenly minded to be any earthly good."

——Joe Loya, author of The Man Who Outgrew His Prison Cell

"What did Julia and David learn from their strict Christian upbringing? How to write apparently . . . Everything in this memoir, including its final tragedy, is brightly, clearly rendered, by a voice as rich in forgiveness as it has unforgivable stories to tell."

——Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"A frank and compelling portrait . . . Tinged with sadness yet pervaded by a sense of triumph, Scheeres's book is a crisply written and earnest examination of the meaning of family and Christian values, and announces the author as a writer to watch."

——Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The writing is Dickensian in its blend of the tender, the brutal, and the absurd."


"[Scheeres] deftly exposes the disparity between her parents' religious beliefs and their actions . . . and confesses with honesty and emotion her guilt and shame at abandoning her little brother in her search for acceptance. This work will force readers to relive the angst of being a teenager at a new school and desperately trying to fit in. Highly recommended."

——Library Journal

"Told with unflinching precision . . . Scheeres’ language is consistently matter-of-fact without sounding hard; her strong storytelling skills drive each chapter, every page."

——Bust Magazine

"Woody Allen once said 'If Jesus Christ came back today and saw what was being done in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.' He was right. Jesus Land is the story of Christianity gone horribly awry, of children entrusted to unfit parents, and of siblings united against terrible odds. Scheeres' is a heart-breaking memoir, a compelling read that will hold you fast from start to finish and leave you in tears."


"[A] gripping memoir"


"Unflinchingly honest. . . . A-"

——Washington Post

"[A] riveting memoir . . . [Jesus Land] is a book readers are sure to be talking about, and references to such titles as 'Running With Scissors' and 'Girl, Interrupted' will likely be drawn. Scheeres succeeds at relating a harrowing life story with effortless humor and wisdom."

——Chicago Tribune

"Sibling bond is at the core of Jesus Land, Scheeres’s gritty, heart-wrenching memoir. . . . A lesser writer would have buckled under the weight of this story . . . A page turner . . . Heart-stopping and enraging . . . There is much praise, these days, for the detached, quietly elegant narrative. But there is little mention of the power a well-tended rage can bring to a good story . . . Striking . . . Focused, justified and without a trace of self-pity. Shot through with poignancy."

——New York Times Book Review

"Judging from this exquisitely wrought memoir, Scheeres emerged with sensibilities intact and learned that love can flourish even in the harshest climates."


"[A] clear-eyed memoir . . . with judicious restraint. To spend your childhood in a doctinaire environment, whether political or religious, is to become too familiar, too fast, with the worst of human frailties--hypocrisy, bigotry, moral cowardice."


"A harrowing memoir of coming-of-age amid religious zealotry . . . Scheeres manages to balance her righteous rage against fanatical hypocracy with a smart sense of humor . . . poignant and heartbraking."

——Mother Jones

"[A] marvelous remembrance . . . Jesus Land will break your heart and mend it again, but it won't stop haunting you. . . . Grade: A"

——Entertainment Weekly