Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres | Audiobook Review

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres | Audiobook ReviewJesus Land by Julia Scheeres
Narrator: Elizabeth Evans
Length: 10 Hours 6 Minutes
Published by Counterpoint Press on 2012-10-30
Genres: 20th Century, Biography & Autobiography, History, Literary, United States
Pages: 384
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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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 Caribe--a religious reform school in the Dominican Republic--is 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.

Why Did I Listen To This Book?

Sometimes, I just need some non-fiction in my life. A while back,I listened to A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres and really thought it was an excellent listen. When I came across Jesus Land on Audible, I purchased it without even making the connection in my head that it was the same author. Eventually, after putting The Prince Of Tides on pause for now, I decided it was time to listen to Jesus Land. I wanted a hard hitting non-fiction book with religious themes. Please note: This book is not the type that gets all preachy with religion or anything, so don’t avoid it for that reason.

What’s The Story Here?

Jesus Land is about Julia Scheeres experience growing up in a very religious family with two adopted African American brothers. Julia’s parents are distant. Her dad has a heavy hand and her mom just is not warm at all. Racism is all too common in the small town that Julia grows up in, and some of this memoir details her experiences with people calling herself and her brother names. To make matters even worse, Scheeres discloses sexual abuse in this book and well, it’s enough to turn your stomach. On top of all this, Scheeres is shipped off to the Dominican Republic to a Christian reform school after she’s caught out after curfew. She has the choice between going home with her parents, becoming emancipated, or going to the school with her brother David in the Dominican Republic. She picks the school. And so, a lot of the book revolves around the abuses that take place at the school, called Escuela Caribe. Really, this memoir is about a childhood filled with racism, religious zealotry, and abuse. It is really, really sad, but also really, really compelling. 

How’s The Writing?

Honestly, after finishing this audiobook, I went online to look up the school and Scheeres. I found myself landing down this rabbit hole and reading the entirety of an Ask Me Anything on Reddit with Scheeres. To me, that’s the mark of good non-fiction and good writing, when I find myself in a research spiral after reading the book. The same thing happened after I listened to A Thousand Lives. I did discover in my search that Scheeres does not seem to have another book coming out soon for my liking.

I have to also say that this book made me emotional. I found myself very upset and angry while listening. I think that for a non-fiction memoir to provoke such feelings in me is a sign that the book is REALLY, REALLY good.

How’s The Narration?

When I started this, I was expecting narration similar to Robin Miles, she’s the narrator of A Thousand Lives. However, the narrator of Jesus Land, Elizabeth Evans, is totally different. She does not sound academic or like a professor at all. Instead, she sounds like a regular girl just recounting her story to us. I thought she sounded authentic and like she embodied the words of Scheeres’ memoir. Her voice is pitched a bit higher, but I liked it. She has good pacing, diction and tone. The production quality is very on par with what I enjoy when I listen to audios, meaning it’s crisp and clear with no weird pauses or feedback.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

  • People who liked A Thousand Lives even though the subject matter is totally different, the strong writing is still here
  • People with an interest in religion and the way it affects the lives of the most extreme believers
  • People interested in the intersection of race and class
  • People who enjoy non-fiction memoirs about those who live a less than convention childhood
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I think I’m going to give this a shot. I’ve been reading a little bit too much fiction lately, and I need some non-fiction right now. It sounds really interesting.
    I’ve never really listened to audiobooks, but I’m thinking this might be a good book to start with.

    • You should definitely check it out, Iris. Jesusland is really, really intense and sad and good. I also would recommend her audiobook of A Thousand Lives which is non-fiction about Jim Jones and Jonestown.


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