26 April 2012

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

These are the two covers of The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry. The cover on the left is the old cover and the one on the right is the new cover. I am completely unsure as to which I like better.

From the Back Cover:
The Earthquake Machine tells the story of fourteen-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 yardman, Jesus. But when the INS deports Jesus back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.
As life gets more and more intolerable, Rhonda is left with the feeling there are only two options left - to kill herself or to escape to Mexico and find Jesus. Her choice is to head out on her own and try to find a man named Jesus in Oaxaca State, Mexico. Masquerading as a Mexican boy named Angel, Rhonda crosses Mexico alone in a sort of vision quest.

This book reminded me somewhat of Judy Blume's Are You there God, it's Me Margaret in that there is a lot of very frank discussion about little girls changing into young women; sexual growth and exploration; and some rather uncomfortable child abuse disguised as exploration. These things together caused some rather uncomfortable moments for me as a reader.

Mary Lowry is a wonderful writer. Her story flows well and Rhonda reads as a very real fourteen-year old. The circumstances she finds herself in are unbelievable and, on some level, humorous. The ending of the story was supremely satisfying. I was thrilled that it didn't end the way I thought it would - and that is all I will say about that.

I am of two minds about The Earthquake Machine. One the one mind - it is a well written novel with well developed characters and an earthy, honest feel. On the other mind - much of the content made me uncomfortable. If you are less of a prude than I am, you might really enjoy Ms. Lowry's book.

Character Development         5
Editing                                    5
Sex                                          4
Violence                                  0
Romance                                 0
Readability/Flow                     5

A Taste from page 65-66:
Rhonda lay down on her back in the sand, closed her eyes and breathed. She tried to just pay attention to herself. And she noticed, below the panic and the terror and the horror that she'd lost her backpack with all her clothes and even her knife from Jesus, that she didn't feel at all anymore that she wanted to die. The feeling had left her. Shit she thought, maybe I'll die anyway, die alone in the desert. But on the other side, I was wanting to kill myself. And now at least that's gone. My dad says I'm just like my mother. And now Vic and Mr. Temple and maybe even Megan and Adeline think so, too. And I kind of am. But in that one way, I'm not going to be like her. Rhonda stood up, and it took everything she had not to start swimming back across the river. She stood there in the moonlight; she made herself stay still.


  1. I think I like the new cover more cos frankly, the old one is boring :/

  2. I didn't get much from the first cover, but the second one follows the usual pretty girl format that I see on so many YA books these days that it left me unmoved, too.

    Since I love edgy YA stories, I might find this one a good read. Of course, it's almost summer and I go for lighter fare during these toasty days. Might have to hold this one until a dark and stormy night.


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