Thursday, April 5, 2012

Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

I wanted to review this book simply because author Mary Pauline Lowry had peeked my interest in her work. Her bio alone was job dropping that I had to read this book. I mean a young American teen girl who runs away to Mexico, on her own, and her main purpose is to find Jesus a man who was employed as her families yard man after he was deported. I have never crossed a book like this and feel anyone who is a thought-provoking reader and able to read through the gritty turmoil that a character has to go through for self-discovery will want to read Earthquake Machine.

Rhonda a fifteen-year-old girl is about to have a horrific nightmare hit her household and her only friend, Jesus the yardman, who is able to help her emotionally, has been deported. Rhonda will take the opportunity to flee and runaway to Oaxaca Mexico where Jesus spoke of living before he came to America. With only the gift of a knife and the Spanish Jesus taught Rhonda she will make the long mournful journey to the only friend that she can bare her soul to.

Rhonda is a tender young girl with a power keg ready to go off inside. She has to deal with all the ugliness the world has to offer at once that you worry if she’ll come out okay. The gritty life lessons of death, betrayal, sex, and identity will hit poor Rhonda between the eyes in a way you wish no one had to. This is what sends Rhonda off running to Mexico with the new name Angel. Angel carries all of Rhonda’s baggage and a new identity to cloak her with. Not wanting to be found she has to hide in the shadows of Mexico so to speak. This is where Rhonda’s story became very real because this is how she comes across a lot of the dangers of drugs and crime that happen in the country. But Rhonda/Angel sees only the beauty of Mexico and embraces the culture that her friend Jesus told her stories about. Using both sides of the coin that is Mexico, Angel manages to harden Rhonda’s skin and give her the strength to challenge her demons.

I will warn readers that this book even though with a teen lead character has a mature sexual explicitness that may make some readers uncomfortable but after finishing the book I came up with my own explanation of why. While Rhonda is on the run she has no physical guidance of family, no one to protect her. So all the good and bad things about real life make there way in with every detail imaginable, it was hard for me to read at times but it’s the real world that you don’t want a child to see, but I cared about Rhonda too much to stop reading. Author Mary Pauline Lowry is a courageous writer who had complete faith in her story and was able to take me through Mexico with Rhonda and tell the story of a broken and battered girl who became a strong woman who takes control of her life.

Without spoiling it for readers, the scene that had me shed a tear was when Rhonda sneaks off to visit the La Virgin in the cathedral and the outcome of that fateful visit. Mary you seriously broke my heart with every word. I could see Angel in that awful moment and truly felt her pain.

I do believe that Earthquake Machine requires a special type of reader, which is someone who is willing to challenge themselves with the harsh reality that we live in today. Things are so in your face now that you can’t ignore them. Mary Pauline Lowry’s writing was so visual that as I read her book I kept thinking how it could be a great indie/foreign film that people would praise. Who knows maybe it will.    



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. 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.

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