Love and Loss In The Desert – Pure Land

Pure Land Cover photo

Pure Land, the Story…

If ever there was a book as beautiful and complicated as the desert southwest, Pure Land is that book. Curiosity, love, intrigue are where the story starts, and by the end you will cry for what was lost.

Pure Land is primarily a true to life tale about a woman who loved the USA and the National Parks. Her tale is wonderful and tragic, but not the only one. Where her story ends, another, the story of her assailant picks up. How did he end up where he did on that fateful day. What took place in the months and years leading up to that day, that made him who he was and drove his choices and decisions? And then, just when you think that the story has played out, there’s a third act. The story of the Annette, the author and what happened in her life to lead her to write about Tomomi Hanamure. Yet Annette’s story just starts where Tomomi and Randy leave off. Because Annette’s story is also tragic, and one that is all too common in America.

In the end, you will realize the the story of the people and the story of the land are intertwined. One becomes the other, actions impact decisions, impact lives and they in turn impact the land. People are not just from a place, they are part of a place.

Author Info

Annette McGivney is an award-winning writer who has been drawn to remote, wild places her entire life. Through her work as a writer, educator and speaker she seeks to inspire others to connect with the natural environment and protect wilderness. Annette has been Southwest Editor for Backpacker magazine since 1996 and a member of the Journalism faculty at Northern Arizona University since 2002. 

Who is Pure Land for?

Oh gosh, everyone should read this book. Although full disclosure, some of the topics are complicated and mature. I would say at least a full fledged teenager to adult book, NOT FOR LITTLE KIDS. If you do gift this to a teen, please, please, please have a discussion about it after they’re done. There’s so much to unpack, and so much to think about. Really, this is a great book club book, because, you can start anywhere and find interesting, fun and enlightening things to talk about.

Borrow or Buy?

This is a definite buy. I will probably read it again at some point, or possible loan it to someone who has proven that they’ll give it back when they’re done. If nothing else, I’ll pass it along to my daughter when she’s old enough, or interested enough. I think she’ll enjoy it.


Pure Land, Annette McGivney, AUXmedia, Detroit, MI, 2017, 352 pages, $19.95, ISBN: 978-0-9985278-8-8


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