Categories
Books Reviews

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry is a book I love to think about over and over.

When I think about coming of age books, I love to think about The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry (or as I call her, MPL) because the girl in the book is so kickass and you know how I feel about PowerGirls!

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.

Earthquake Machine

The Earthquake Machine is the kind of coming of age book I wanted to read when I was a teenager:   Adventure.  Love. Hate. Desire.  Travel. Knives. Crime.  Did I mention Knives? Our protagonist Rhonda has a difficult life and decides to go on an adventure deep within Mexico to find an old family friend.  This story is girl power to the max.  You won’t believe the strength that Rhonda discovers within herself during her adventure.

You are transported to Mexico within the pages of this book:  to the land of Indians and Spaniards and Mexicans and mole and Spanish.  Lowry gets it right:  the bright colors of the sunset and the paint; the smell of the food cooking; the depth of the passion that the Mexicans feel for each other and for their religion.  You forget you are reading a book in English and you become a friend walking along the streets of a small Mexican town next to Rhonda turned Angel, speaking in Spanish and following her story.

Rhonda/Angel’s search leads her to experiences that will shock, horrify, and make you laugh.  To be sure, there are sexual situations within the story that are not for everyone but reflect a teenager’s interests and curiosities.  Lowry’s coming of age story will make you yearn to be go on an adventure and force you to question your beliefs.

This is the best coming of age story I’ve read in a very long time and a perfect blend of multicultural richness.

 

Did I mention that both Mary and I lived in Austin for a time?

Y’all.

Categories
Books Reviews

The Ford 99 Test of The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

Let’s take a brief look into what’s happening on page 99 of The Earthquake Machine. As told to us by the author herself!  Open up your copy of the book and turn to page 99 which starts like this:

“…crazy moonlight and howl their crazy howls.”

Did you find it?  Let’s see what’s going on inside Mary’s head.

The Earthquake MachineBy p. 99 of my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE, the protagonist Rhonda has run away while on a river rafting trip in Big Bend National Park in the desert of West Texas. She swims across the Rio Grande to Mexico, steals a burro and rides him up the hill to the town of Milagros. There she finds a bartender named Juan Diego to help her. Juan Diego is kind, but whacked out on peyote. He helps cut and die her hair black so she can “pass” as a Mexican boy and travel south across Mexico to the state of Oaxaca to search for her family’s gardener.

Juan Diego dubs Rhonda with the moniker Angel (which is a boy’s name in Spanish) and sends her off to ride across the desert on the burro Pablo. Juan Diego tells Angel that if she rides for long enough in a certain direction she will hit a highway and be able to catch a bus to the city of Oaxaca.

On p. 99, Angel is alone in the desert with only the burro Pablo to keep her company. She has water and food that Juan Diego has packed for her, but she’s scorching in the desert and worried about making it all the way to the highway. She’s left her family, friends, country and everything she knows behind. Even her watch has already broken, so she doesn’t even have the familiar comfort of knowing what time it is. She’s on a big adventure with no one to protect her. But being so vulnerable and so alone opens her up to the possibility of miracles, for amazing things to happen to her, for a great transformation to occur.

I’ve read so many books and seen so many movies that depict a guy going on a big adventure while his female love interest waits at home for him to return. I’ve never wanted to wait around for a guy to come back from doing something spectacular. I’ve always wanted to have the adventures myself, and encourage other girls to do the same. I hope girls and women will read THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE and be inspired to take risks and live life fully.

I couldn’t agree more with Mary and one way to go on adventures is through books!

 

Book synopsis:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

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.

Author Bio:

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.

Categories
Books Reviews

Book Review: The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

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.

Lowry is the author of The Earthquake Machine

Title: THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE

Author: MARY PAULINE LOWRY

ISBN: 978-1-4567-9585-6

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

313 pages, trade paperback

Fiction, paperback $11.55, ebook $0.99

http://www.marypaulinelowry.com/

 Here’s what others are saying:

“REMARKABLE. Wild, maddening, preposterous, beautiful. It’s just crazy good. A marvel.”

–Joy Williams, Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The Earthquake Machine, a fun, fantastical and exhilarating tale, explodes the distinction between Young Adult and adult coming-of-age novels, even as it explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish.

My thoughts:

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry is the kind of coming of age book I wanted to read when I was a teenager:   Adventure.  Love. Hate. Desire.  Travel. Knives. Crime.  Our protagonist Rhonda has a difficult life and decides to go on an adventure deep within Mexico to find an old family friend.  This story is girl power to the max.  You won’t believe the strength that Rhonda discovers within herself during her adventure.

You are transported to Mexico within the pages of this book:  to the land of Indians and Spaniards and Mexicans and mole and Spanish.  Lowry gets it right:  the bright colors of the sunset and the paint; the smell of the food cooking; the depth of the passion that the Mexicans feel for each other and for their religion.  You forget you are reading a book in English and you become a friend walking along the streets of a small Mexican town next to Rhonda turned Angel, speaking in Spanish and following her story.

Rhonda/Angel’s search leads her to experiences that will shock, horrify, and make you laugh.  To be sure, there are sexual situations within the story that are not for everyone but reflect a teenager’s interests and curiosities.  Lowry’s coming of age story will make you yearn to be go on an adventure and force you to question your beliefs.

This is the best coming of age story I’ve read in a very long time and a perfect blend of multicultural richness.

 

I give it 4 paws!