Title: The Earthquake MachineAuthor: Mary Pauline Lowry
BUY THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE
SUMMARY: The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.
Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.
The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry is a novel of self-discovery, grief, and adventure. The only thing that gives Rhonda peace is sneaking out before dinner to spend time with her gardener, Jesus. At 14, Rhonda’s life turns upside down when the neighbors have Jesus deported shortly before her mother commits suicide. She is now all alone in a house, with a father who cares more about work than being there for his daughter. Her best friends invite her along on a trip to raft the Rio Grande; during that trip, Rhonda decides that she does not want to live her life anymore.
Instead of suicide, she decides to swim across the river into Mexico, and change her life. She decided she would rather be a boy, and becomes a Mexican boy names Angel. From there she travels through Mexico to find her friend, Jesus. Along the way, she meets interesting characters both good and bad. During this time, she makes discoveries about herself, and tries to fill the void that her other life has left.
I really loved the journey that Rhonda/Angel takes to discover herself, and the understanding she gains. My heart hurt for poor little Rhonda, for one who is so young to feel so much grief in her life. When Rhonda sheds her old life to become Angel, she really does completely change. She goes from a scared little girl, to a brave young man in a way. She carries the strength throughout the story.
While this book has a young protagonist, it is not something I would not recommend to young teen readers. There is a lot of foul language, and the journey involves a sort of sexual self-discovery. It would be great for adults and some older teens. Mary Pauline Lowry has a way with metaphors and descriptions that allows you to experience the events of the book.
**Unabridged Bookshelf received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review**
About the Author
Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.
GUEST POST: ADVENTURES IN BECOMING AN AUTHOR
During my second season as a forest firefighter on an elite “Hotshot” crew I decided to write a novel about my life on the crew. I figured I could write it during that fire season. But I was too busy traveling the country fighting fires to settle in and focus on the book. And once the season was over I always found excuses not to write.
I finally committed to writing every day and I finished a solid draft of the book THE GODS OF FIRE in a couple of years. Then I started writing, rewriting and sending the book to agents.
In the meantime, I moved to Colorado and got a job working as an apprentice carpenter. I woke up at dawn every morning to work on my next book THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE before going to build houses all day. I let myself make the novel as wild and fantastical as I wanted.
By the time I finished THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE, my first novel THE GODS OF FIRE had been represented by several literary agents and STILL hadn’t sold, so I flew out to Hollywood and convinced a major producer to option the book for film. I then wrote the screenplay and there is a director now attached to the project. That experience taught me a lot about perseverance and not giving up.
I’ve decided to wait to publish THE GODS OF FIRE until the movie is closer to being set up. And so I’m letting readers have a chance at THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE, a book for any girl or woman who ever longed to leave behind all her fears and limitations to go on a wild adventure.
What do you think?
As a teenager, would you have been brave enough to leave your life behind and venture into a new country?
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