Monday, February 06, 2006

Jesus Land : A Memoir

OMG. Seriously.

"Sinners go to: HELL
Rightchuss go to: HEAVEN
The end is neer: REPENT
This here is: JESUS LAND"

Imagine living someplace where a farmer would post this by the road on his land. Now imagine living there in the 1970s and 80s with your adopted African American brothers and bible thumping missionary styled parents.

This book hit me on so many levels. First Julia's parents. Supposedly missionary in philosophy, surgeon dad drives a Porsche and mom's in an Audi. Religion is used as an excuse to violence in this household from an absent dad and a mom who really should not have had children.

Julia. Drinking Comfort (Southern, that is) before school, distancing herself from brother David at school, and finding her blank spot when brother Jerome comes into her room at night.

David. Just wishing for a family. Trying to fit in. A victim of beatings over the smallest infractions.

Through a series of events, both Julia and David end up in the Dominican Republic at a "Christian" school for Juveniles, that seems to still be in operation today...which horrifies me. They find a way to keep each other sane through the ordeal.

The ending will take your breath away.

I think I am fascinated by this memoir for a number of reasons. It makes me so sad to hear of yet another girl sexually abused who then puts herself out there as a sexual being as a control measure. It makes me worry for my daughters.

The Bible Belt is astounding to me. I grew up going to church...but a middle of the road Protestant church where there was little if any mention of Hell. Daily Fire and Brimstone must take its toll. And the homogeneous nature of the population seems so strange as well. I grew up pretty white bread, but there was a bit of variety that one didn't blink at. I have a friend who grew up the Bible Belt way and I never really knew what to make of her stories...but this memoir certainly solidified her experience to me.

And I constantly wonder why people who don't want and don't like children, have them.

An intense and poignant read, that I kept having to put down, eventhough I didn't want to put it down.

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