A peculiar all-American childhood

There are the self-congratulatory memoirs of celebrities — in general, badly written by someone other than the celebrity. Then there are the memoirs of ordinary people with freakish lives that are full of self-pitying rage but precious little perspective or wisdom.

Then there’s Jesus Land, a perfect memoir, which is out on Monday (10/30) in paperback. (Read an excerpt via the link below.) Julia Scheeres isn’t famous (yet), but she is, fortunately, an actual writer. So the very peculiar version of a very all-American childhood that she lived was not wasted on her.

The simple facts of her upbringing during the 1970s and ’80s —
evangelical parents, rural Indiana, a white girl with two adopted African-American brothers, gang rape, a brutal and expensive Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic — are as compelling as anything in fiction.

And she’s turned her remarkable raw material into a piece of authentic literature. Jesus Land is full of riveting detail and clear-eyed understanding — frank, funny, scathing, unsentimental, and moving.

READ an excerpt from Jesus Land

BUY Jesus Land (Counterpoint Press; 363 pages, paperback)

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.

A peculiar all-American childhood