Readings: Pure Land, by Annette McGivney

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Group: The Book Cellar & REI Lincoln Park

When: Saturday, May 19, 6 pm & Sunday, May 20, 12-1:30 pm

Where: The Book Cellar (Sat) & REI Lincoln Park (Sun), Chicago, IL

Cost: Free (registration required at REI event)

Details: About Pure Land:

Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese citizen who loved exploring the rugged wilderness of the American West, was killed on her birthday May 8, 2006. She was stabbed 29 times as she hiked to Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Her killer was a distressed 18-year old Havasupai youth named Randy Redtail Wescogame who had a history of robbing tourists and was addicted to meth. It was the most brutal murder ever recorded in Grand Canyon's history. As the indigenous people of the Grand Canyon, the Havasupai once called the entire natural wonder their home before being forced onto a 500-acre reservation. Annette McGivney covered the murder and the plight of the tribe for Backpacker magazine where she is Southwest Editor. After the award-winning article was published in June 2007, McGivney could not let go of the story. A woman who also enjoys wilderness hiking, McGivney felt a bond with Hanamure and embarked on a years-long pursuit to learn more about her. McGivney traveled to Japan and across the American West, following the trail through Native American lands and national parks that Hanamure left in her journals. Yet, McGivney also had a connection to Wescogame, Hanamure's killer, and her reporting unexpectedly triggered long buried memories about violent abuse McGivney experienced as a child.

Pure Land is a story of this inner and outer journey, how two women in search of their true nature found transcendence in the West's most spectacular landscapes. It is also a tale of how child abuse leads to violence and destroys lives. And it is, ultimately, a story of healing. While chronicling Hanamure's life landed McGivney in the crime scene of her own childhood, it was her connection to Hanamure—a woman she did not know until after Hanamure died —that helped McGivney find a way out of her own horror.

Part true crime and part memoir, Pure Land is a unique narrative non-fiction book that has received high praise since it was released in October 2017 by Aquarius Press. Pure Land was the first pick for Outside magazine's new online book club and it received the "Excellence in Storytelling" Award from the Coconino Center for the Arts. A review published in Outside states: "[Pure Land] is so gripping, so well reported, and so well told that it deserves space on the bookshelf next to major commercial successes like Krakauer's Into the Wild and Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge."

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