Monday, April 05, 2010

Jesus Land

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres

I'm not a big memoir book person but this book was loaned to me and since I will read just about anything at this point in my life that I don't have to buy myself, well... what can I say, I read it.

Did I enjoy it? Not particularly. But not because it wasn't well written. Mostly because Julia and her brother's story is a hard one to hear. Unfortunately it is a tale that is still relevant in society today, 20+yrs post Julia having lived through it.

Julia's story begins with the adoption of David at the age of 3. David and Julia are the same age, do everything together, and consider themselves "twins". There is only one problem, Julia is white and David is black. The two have had to learn to deal with more than their fare share. Besides racism the two have to deal with an abusive father, a mother who is more involved with her church's missionaries than her own children, and society that sees only the "upstanding" religious parents that were kind enough to adopt a young black child.

David and Julia are ultimately sent to Escuela Caribe, a reform school which is ran by New Horizon's Youth Ministries in the Dominican Republic where their abuse continues. Sadly the school still exists today.

I am not only amazed by the cruelty that parents would put their children through but the fact that they would justify it by using Jesus' name makes me sick.

Julia doesn't write the book with a "gee aren't you sorry for me" attitude but rather with the sole direction of sharing the love for her brother and how no matter how bad things got nothing was able to deter or destroy the love for her brother.

I am a mother and I know that racism and child abuse still exist, I've worked with it in my job and I have seen the effects on children in my area. In an interview with Julia she was asked "what advice she would give someone who was struggling to deal with their own upbringing". Part of her answer included the following: "If you don't stand up for yourself, no one else will. And always stay true to your own values, no matter how disorienting or overwhelming the forces around you. Adolescence is just a blip in the span of a lifetime. Your future is wide open. Use it wisely."

The story is ultimately well written and overall an ordeal that I hope no one that I know ever has to goes through.

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