Russ Surber
Russ Surber asked:

Are there any suggested discussion questions for book groups?

Annette McGivney Not sure how long ago this was submitted, so sorry if it is too late but I am pasting here some questions that I share with groups. I am also open to meeting by zoom or Skype with groups. You can email me at if you want a pdf of this. It did not paste very well.

Pure Land questions from Annette
In what ways does the concept of heaven come into play in the book? Did the story impact your
own notion of heaven, both in respect to our present lives and/or the afterlife? And, going off
that, how did organized religion impact the characters in this story?
Think of luck and fate sort of like yin and yang. Do you believe in one or both? How did luck and
fate play out in Tomomi’s life? How about in the author’s life?
Related: Tomomi is said to be “bokkemon,” fearless. Do you think she was truly fearless in a
positive way or was she actually naïve? And how did this brand of fearlessness translate into
her relationship with wild places?
In this story (and in real life) Annette, Tomomi, Randy, Billy Wescogame and Tetsushi Hanamure
all lost their mothers in one way or another at age 4. How did this impact their lives as adults?
After reading Pure Land, what are your thoughts about how experiences in early childhood can
set someone on a path, for better or worse, in adulthood?
Pure Land demonstrates how the actions of a nation impact families, which then impact
individuals. How did this play out in Pure Land regarding the policies of Japan and the United
States? Especially consider exploitation of people and natural resources. And how does a
personal connection to nature potentially counter the negative effects of dysfunctional
countries and families?
What was your visceral reaction to Chapter 18 “Flashback”? Why do you think the author
inserted this jarring segment into the book at this moment in the narrative?
Each chapter begins with a Japanese kanji character. Do you notice any pattern with how these
symbols are used in the book? See page 8 for a reference on the meaning of each symbol.
After the prologue, there is a quote from Zen Buddhist author and teacher D.T Suzuki. What is
the significance of this quote in relation to the story the that follows?
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by Annette McGivney (Goodreads Author)
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