American Library Association’s “Alex Award”
Quality Paperback Book Club’s “New Visions” Award
Elle “Readers’ Choice Award”
NYT “Editors’ Choice”
Julia and her adopted brother, David, are 16. 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.
"A page turner...heart-stopping and enraging...focused, justified, and without a trace of self-pity. Shot through with poignancy." --New York Times Book Review
“This is one of the best memoirs in years. I foisted it on friends and strangers alike, and everyone loved its marvelous story, writing, humor, truth.” —Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird
“[An] exquisitely wrought memoir, Scheeres emerged with sensibilities intact and learned that love can flourish even in the harshest climates.” —People
“Julia Scheeres’ engrossing debut won over most of our readers… a reminder that what matters most is not just the tale but the telling.” —ELLE
"What makes Jesus Land unique and easy to relate to is its unadorned, dark humor . . . Many of us could have had the misfortune of stumbling into Jesus Land but few would have the spirit to survive." ―Los Angeles Times
A New York Times and London Times bestseller
NCIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award
NYT Editors’ Choice
The Guardian’s “Top 10 Books on the 70’s”
Cosmo’s “20 Page-Turners every Twenty-Something Should Read”
Book of the Year: The Boston Globe, SF Chron
A Thousand Lives is the story of Jonestown as it has never been told. New York Times bestselling author Julia Scheeres drew from tens of thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews, to piece together an unprecedented and compelling history of the doomed camp, focusing on the people who lived there.
The people who built Jonestown wanted to forge a better life for themselves and their children. In South America, however, they found themselves trapped in Jonestown and cut off from the outside world as their leader goaded them toward committing “revolutionary suicide” and deprived them of food, sleep, and hope. Vividly written and impossible to forget, A Thousand Lives is a story of blind loyalty and daring escapes, of corrupted ideals and senseless, haunting loss.
“A gripping account of how decent people can be taken in by a charismatic and crazed tyrant.” —The New York Times
“The first solid history of Peoples Temple.” — San Francisco Magazine
“Riveting…you will not be able to look away.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Scheeres sheds startling new light on this murky, mini-chapter of contemporary history..a compelling, psychological mystery.” — The Wall Street Journal
“Scheeres tells the train tale of Jonestown — in its way, a peculiarly American apocalypse.” — Los Angeles Times
“The definitive book on Jonestown and the Danse Macabre of suicide and murder orchestrated by mad Jim Jones. Julia Scheeres takes us by the hand and leads us gently, inexorably, into the darkness.” — Tim Cahill, author of Lost in My Own Backyard.