Deb's Reviews > The Earthquake Machine

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry
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Apr 07, 12

bookshelves: children-s-and-ya
Read from February 28 to March 16, 2012

This is a really unusual book, and that’s hard to say about the YA field. I loved the story, its setting, and in particular the voice of its main character. Rhonda feels like an authentic teenager – she’s completely confused, she looks for meaning in everything, yet acts totally on impulse. As a teenager I didn’t do any of the brave, wild things that Rhonda does, but I remember that time where you invest everything with huge emotional meaning, even though the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. Rhonda sort of lives in color where the rest of us adults live in black and white.

Rhonda’s travels through Mexico are so vivid -- Lowry calls all of your senses into play as you read this book. She writes about the colors on walls and on the Mexican carvings called alibrijes, the taste of pan dulce, the sounds of different dialects. Lowry really pays attention to the details. The characters Rhonda meets feel larger than life but not like caricatures. As Rhonda travels from town to town, you really feel you’re seeing and experiencing what she does.

Rhonda’s inner turmoil felt brilliant at times and overwhelming at other times. She’s constantly coming to new realizations about herself but then turns around and makes the same mistakes. She questions her identity, her sexuality, her faith so many times in this book that while authentic, it gets a little repetitive.

By way of a warning, this book is pretty sexual and at times hit my discomfort level given that this character is fourteen years old. Still, Rhonda’s confusion and obsession with sexuality, while it overwhelms the narrative at times, is probably still in keeping with what a teenage girl might be feeling. Rhonda lacks any sort of parental guidance, so it’s understandable that sexuality becomes this huge, confusing thing in her life.

This book was action-packed and full of adventure, which is cool in a story about a teenage girl. There are maybe some times the book is a little too adventurous to be realistic (for example, when Rhonda meets up with a band of female banditas) but Lowry never tones down the action because she’s writing about a girl (which I would expect from a woman who is herself a firefighter).

All in all, a very cool read that doesn't feel like YA.
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