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Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Trespass is the story of one woman's struggle to gain footing in inhospitable territory. A wilderness activist and apostate Mormon, Amy Irvine sought respite in the desert outback of southern Utah's red-rock country after her father's suicide, only to find out just how much of an interloper she was among her own people. But more than simply an exploration of personal loss, ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by North Point Press (first published February 19th 2008)
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I had to keep putting this down to read something lighter but then I had to keep picking it up. It's dark and painful stuff but so well-written it's worth suffering through.
Reviewers seem to be divided into Mormons who hated it, Jack Mormons who related to it, non-Mormon westerners who are fascinated by the book and are unsurprised to have their opinions confirmed and outsiders to it all who found it all too much to handle.
As a non-Mormon westerner who looks on in stunned amazement at what some
I really wanted to like this book but it never happened for me. The reviews from other people were great and I thought, based on those reviews, that I would really enjoy this read.

In actuality, I found the storyline to be too heavy. I suppose I wanted more of a memoir and less of a history lesson. I also had a hard time relating to the author. I found her to be rather self-loathing. I know it turns out that she had a hormone deficiency which caused this but still-a couple hundred pages of her i
May 27, 2008 Camille rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Utah, Utah History Buffs
Recommended to Camille by: KCPW
Shelves: non-fiction
I always enjoy reading books set in my home state of Utah. Trespass, was well written and very enjoyable to read. The author adeptly describes the turmoil of growing up in Utah as a non-Mormon. I think the book would occasionally become a little tedious if the reader couldn't relate, in some way, to the Mormon culture. Otherwise, the information about San Juan and it's people was very interesting and the landscape description made me yearn for red rock.
I read Trespass because I'm going to to Utah next month. I like to read as much and as diversely as possible about a place before traveling to it and Irvine's memoir, written by a jack Mormom and an environmentalist, promised to cover two of the area's major themes. The book also seemed darker than most wilderness writing, as the narrator moves to the desert in the wake of her father's suicide, which added to my interest.

Irvine's memoir scores big with me as a history of Mormon settlement in th
Phillip Rhoades
I really wanted to like this book but it ultimately fell way short of any expectations. While I was enthralled at moments by the biography of female Jack Mormon in San Juan County I was ultimately lost in the triteness of so many of the memoir's components: the ubiquitous SW comparison to the Anasazi; the conflict between environmentalist and San Juan county residents; SUWA versus Utah (i.e. us versus them); or the vulnerable female versus a male with unquenchable wanderlust. Amy Irvine has a st ...more
Literary Mama
From "Now Reading" by Literary Mama staff:

Blog Editor Amanda Jaros writes, "For my master's program, my mentor had me read Amy Irvine's Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land. I have been utterly awed by this book. It is an amazing nonfiction story about a woman who moves to a remote desert county in southeast Utah. There, in an intense landscape, she seeks to find the truth within herself. She explores her Mormon ancestry, the legacy of Mormon power in Utah, and her relationship—or a
Carol Dalton
May 31, 2008 Carol Dalton rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: environmentalists
Recommended to Carol by: danya from book group
At first I thought this was just another book where the disenfranchised ex Mormon bashes the majority culture with which she grew up.... it is, and it isn't. (Not that I don't do my own share of subtle bashing!) Amy drew me in, and her self reflections struck a chord. I'd love to go along on one of her meanders into the south Utah desert.. Amy knows her stuff about pre historical Utah. And I hear she went to PCHS.
Becky Roper
This non-fiction account was written by an enviornmental activist and Jack Mormon who goes to live in San Juan County and encounters a lot of people have a very different outlook from hers. There was a fair amount of unvarnished church history which was interesting, but all in all her brand of navel-gazing combined with a lot of anger was tiring. She had a lot of axes to grind.
I loved this book! Being a non-mormon growing up in Utah the daughter of a "jack" mormon mother and a non-religious father, I could relate to a lot of the interactions/judgements the author has encountered in her life growing up in Utah. Also lots of wonderful Utah history about the indigenous peoples who lived in southern Utah and about the pioneers who came to avoid persecution.
Very personal, very interesting, very real, and very sad in places. So many of Irvine's experiences mirror my own that I became quite absorbed in the experience. Amy Irvine lives close to where I spend the winter, and Monticello is next door to Indian Creek where I climb spring and fall, so it hit close to home on many levels.
frank ciccarelli
this is an indelible book about Utah, the Mormons & the West ... everything you never knew about one of the world's newest, strangest & fastest growing new religions & the Pleistocene landscape that nurtured them ... an insider's view of the looking glass world & state-within-a- state that is the Kingdom of Deseret.
This is listening to a good friend who is extremely good with words, somtimes near poetic, update you on all that has gone on since you last talked. She weaves land use, land history, her life and Mormonism as symbolic threads that come together in the end. Self-interested but insightfully so.
Complete bummer of a book. Avoid.
I often wonder if I exist in the wrong earth suit. I cherish my solitude to such an extent that I question whether I shouldn’t have come into this world as a jungle cat, an arctic bear, or an old oak tree. Don’t get me wrong— I love my small chosen community of family and friends and wouldn’t want to escape them— but something about vast, open land calls to my soul in ways that I can’t explain. Nature is the company that my heart truly craves and yet I find myself bound within cities too close; ...more
Renee Alberts
As if the intriguing title wasn’t enough, the book captured me immediately with its first line: “My home is a red desert that trembles with spirits and bones.” Irvine’s arresting prose continues throughout this unrelenting memoir that chronicles the period of turmoil in her life following her father’s death and preceding her marriage to a man she describes as the “lion man.”

She structures the book with archaeological terms that summon the symbols and archetypes of the Southwest’s prehistoric in
A study of the landscape, the fauna, and the human society of Deseret, the Mormon 'dominion' of southeastern Utah. Irvine is a descendant of the most badass of early Mormon settlers and elders, Howard Egan; she delves deep into Mormom history in this place. She's just as fascinated by the Native American culture -- Utes and Paiutes -- and talks about wanton destruction of artifacts.

She is what her neighbors call a Tree Hugger, living with a conservationist attorney, so it's bold of her to move i
Mar 30, 2008 Peggy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: memoir, Desert of Deseret. LDS faith, crisis of faith
Story of wilderness activist and Jack Mormon, But more than her personal exploration, Trespass is an elegy for a dying world, for the damage being done to a beloved landscape and our vanishing connection to it..
After her father's death Amy retreats to the Colorado Plateau .. Her story is one of ruin and restoration. As she researches the past (ancient) landscape, Amy sees her won loss of wildness and spirituality. She morns, and longs for a community - and, finds nature and faith are not as dist
Julene Bair
This is a wildly poetic book--passionate about the desert and about living an examined, honest, and vibrant life. Drawing energy from these fires within, Irvine delights and intrigues me with more information--about the ecology and anthropology of the Colorado Plateau--than would normally maintain my interest. She focuses an equally discerning, interpretive eye on Mormon society and history as she does on the ancient societies that predated the Mormons. I admire her dedication to her desert's ec ...more
I was in Moab while I read this memoir, so as the author described the red rocks, they were actually surrounding me. Along with that, I also related to her being an outsider in a Mormon community. It was good to hear her conservation view points because I've always considered myself a bit of a conservationist. However, I found her views a bit too extreme and found that I lean more towards the middle.

I had a major problem with how she described the jeep safari in Moab. She describes the participa
Amy writes compelling prose about the history, geology, archeology, etc. of the SE corner of Southern Utah. It's too bad she also had to include so much whining and complaining and making excuses about her personal life circumstances. She made herself seem like a gutless spoiled princess, and I lost any respect for her. It's too bad. I don't recommend this book.
It took me a long time to read this book, and I'm glad I finished it, but I had a hard time doing so. I was torn between loving her writing about the Utah Canyon Country and wanting to like but having trouble, at times, with the intensely personal aspects of her inner struggles. There are passages of spectacular writing, and there are long passages of historical writing that slowed me down. So while I ultimately enjoyed the natural and anthropological history of the Anasazi and ancient cultures ...more
Daniel Hadley
A compelling personal narrative about Irvine's departure from Salt Lake for San Juan County after her father commits suicide. A Jack-Mormon - whose religion is essentially the environment - Irvine struggles constantly against rural southern-Utahns, who are all bonded by religion and a mutual hate for environmentalists. It could almost be an MTV reality show, but there is far more pathos.

Interspersed with the narrative are morsels of history on the early Mormon settlers and the indigenous people
Mike Barker
I ran across this book in one of the sections of the library I frequent. I was looking for books about a region of the country or world, something by Robert Kaplan or Ian Frazier. I had never heard of Irvine, but the topic of the desert Southwest, particularly Utah was utterly foreign to me. The book incorporates information about the ancient history of the area, its takeover by Mormon settlers and Irvine's biography all interwoven. The work got a little bogged down when Irvine tried (too hard) ...more
Amy Irvine is a passionate person who truly holds nothing back. Her book bursts at the seams with history on Native Americans, the history and development of Mormonism, and a strong introduction to the conflict between conservationists, ranchers and outdoor recreational vehicle enthusiasts. Her own life story lays bare the tension between secular life, spirituality, organized religion, environmentalism, family, and the need for harmony and community acceptance.

While some may want less personal
May 10, 2015 stellajames rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody who cares about our Earth, everybody concerned with Mormonism.
Recommended to stellajames by: No one
Awesome book. All sorts of feelings stirred up, but mostly anger and sadness at the destruction of a very special and delicate country. I get so tired of humans always putting themselves first—to the very real future destruction of themselves, too, although they refuse to believe it.

There is inspiration in this book, inspiration to go out there and try to save it—"it" being the land, and "out there" being anywhere you may or may not live. Don't expect to win, but who knows, you just might be sur
Trespass was very helpful in getting me up to speed on the ways & politics of Utah. I found it fascinating to a degree, but the unevenness of the writing & the unreliability of the narrator was a bit off putting. At times the author would be scientific & straightforward, at others she attempted to create literary reenactments, still others were highly biased opinions masquerading as face against her neighbors. If she had been able to tie the different styles together it would have be ...more
David Feela
It's a tough book, one chronicling four histories of deterioration, tracing the demise of ancient peoples in the desert SW, the Mormon migration history and its impact on the region and its environment, the author's own family and its struggles maintaining, and finally the author herself and her complications with relationships and becoming a mother. Irving weaves these threads throughout her narrative. She's a good writer but has chosen to tell a gritty tale that seeks redemption in the telling ...more
Amy Irvine had some very interesting observations about prehistory and Native American cultures, but not only were her views extreme, there are some examples in this book of extreme behavior on her part. I appreciated the honesty of this account of her personal life, but I was concerned about her condition. I was reminded of a biography of the late Iris Chang that I read last year. There are some disturbing parallels between Amy Irvine and Iris Chang.

Brilliant writing! I'm more than impressed with how Irvine is able to demonstrate a connection with the land and its history while finding a way to make me feel connected to it, too (never having been there, never having been Mormon, etc.). This is a wonderful piece of nonfiction that toured me through a variety of genuine emotional responses, something that much nonfiction doesn't have the ability to do for me, for whatever reason.
Mar 21, 2008 Demetria is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
A woman raised in the shadow of her Mormon legacy, and within the confines of her states beliefs, UT, heads for the edge of the last wilderness desert where the NPS borders the BLM and the isolated groups of LDS in the desert are more strict than The Church. What's it about? Her dad shoots himself in the heart, and she has figure that one out.....C'mon, any book that opens with an Edward Abbey quote HAS to be good!!
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“My home is a red desert that trembles with spirits and bones.

There are two reasons I came here: my father's death, and the lion man who prowled my dreams. Perhaps it was coincidence, but a man--half wild, ravenous beyond words--slid from the dream world into the mud of the waking one the same year my father left this world for another.

Ghosts. Paw prints. I have tried to stay put.”
“I have scavenged for ways to put down roots here. I am perfroming the precise rituals required. Still, I have no idea how to claim the promised land, to gain any semblance of acceptance among its people. And I realize this is probably how I will always live--slinking around the margins--even on my own property.” 3 likes
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