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The Earthquake Machine

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  60 reviews
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, Jesus. But when the INS deports Jesus back to his home state ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published September 2011 by AuthorHouse
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3.79  · 
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 ·  118 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Reviewed at The Queen of Teen Fiction:

Read my interview with Mary here:

The Earthquake Machine is what I call a Roller-coaster read. You have your ups, your downs, your crazy loop de loop and some of those quick twists and turns that you didn’t see coming. The writing is fantastic and the story is completely unique and unforgettable.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of fourteen year old Rhonda, whose life is pretty
Jessica at Book Sake
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was blown away by this book. The description and cover do it absolutely no justice whatsoever. At first, I thought it sounded like a random mash of events that couldn’t possibly be woven into a story – at least not one that would affect me the way this has. Boy, was I wrong… I found myself, not reading into all hours of the night, but stopping often to digest what I had just read. I guess I didn’t expect the content to be so edgy with such a young main character, so it caught me a little off g ...more
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
Title: The Earthquake Machine
Author: Mary Pauline Lowry
Date of Release: September 2011
Number of Pages: 356
Summary from Goodreads:

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, Jes s. But when the INS deports Jes?'s back to his home
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Earthquake Machine is not your typical YA novel. In fact it is completely different from anything else I've read, but not in any way is that a bad thing. The author herself describes it as "The book every girl should read, and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read", and I think that is spot on.

The first thing that struck me when I started reading The Earthquake Machine was the writing. Lowry's writing is filled with metaphors, especially in the slightly sexual scenes, and it works so w
Hot Stuff Book Reviews

I have to thank the author who gave me a free e-copy of her novel. It's always a real pleasure for me.

This novel is about a young teenager who is fourteen, but I don't think teen will appreciate this book as much as older readers. It's the kind of story that moves you, not only because the character is living tough events, but more because it's a journey. In my opinion it's an initiatory novel with a character looking for her true identity.

The writing sty
Unabridged Bookshelf
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 Grand ...more
Sharayah P.
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best parts of being a book blogger is being approached to review books for up-and-coming authors. I don’t say yes to every request. In fact, I would venture to guess that I only accept about 20% (or less) of the books I am asked to review. There just isn’t enough time in a day, know’m sayin’?

But during the time that I have been accepting review requests from the authors/publishers themselves, I have had a chance to review a great variety of good books: crime/mystery, young adult, para
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review
The Earthquake Machine is a one of a kind read. It tackles many hard issues and it's much more raw than the type of book I usually read. I still enjoyed it though. It's the story of a girl finding her place in the world and there's a real journey that changes Rhonda.

What really surprised me was how mature the book was. It wasn't exactly dark, but there was a lot of stuff that you don't usually find in YA. Everything was handled appropriately. I don't think anything was overdone just to shock th
Raven DeLajour
So I was lucky enough to win this book in a giveaway held by Amy from Obsessions Of A Bookaholic. Thank you Amy and Mary for allowing me to read The Earthquake Machine!

I LOVED this book. I was so happy to finally read another book with Hispanic culture in it! I was raised Hispanic even though I was born here; my parents were born in Chile. We've had many Mexican friends, and it was so refreshing and nice to read about their beautiful culture. I was entranced by this book from the first page. I k
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry tells the story of Rhonda, a girl who’s haunted by the discord in her seemingly perfect upper-class family and terrified by the pressures she faces as a tween on the cusp of womanhood. Rhonda’s closest and best friend is the family gardener, a Mexican immigrant named Jesús; her world is turned upside down when Jesús is deported and the chaos in Rhonda’s family reaches a breaking point. Rhonda runs away from home to search for Jesús and to try to escap ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Hmmm... where do begin? This was a story that was a little unusual, and sometimes a bit extraordinary .... and once I had finished it, my mind kept coming back to it. I kept turning things over and over again in my head --- the main character, the story, some of the supporting characters, the setting. Either way, it all adds up to a fascinating read.

The author's writing style is descriptive, enough so that you can almost imagine where you are, how things taste, how things feel. I think that's a
Nazish Ahmed (Nazish Reads)
I rate this book 3.5 stars.

I just reviewed this on my blog.
To view the full review and other reviews, click here The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry

The first novel review in a long time (I've been doing a lot of manga reviews lately).

Sex: Yes
Gore: There is some, but not too much.
Magic: No
Romance: Yes (She mostly observes while other people are having romance, but she does have her romance, although I didn't see much of the chemistry between her and the guy, I think it was just desire n
Jade Eby
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

This was the sort of book that after I finished, I had to walk away from for a little while. It’s themes and topics are hard hitting at first, but it’s after you walk away that you start really thinking about what was really going on. You remember scenes and conversations from the book long after you’ve stopped reading it and you try to figure out what the hell you think about it. Not only did the author’s personal story inspire me, but her
Marybeth (Manhattan Reader)
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own, for-review
This book was a change from what I usually read, and by change I mean that it didn't just involve an all white cast of characters but had some diversity in them. And I'm not trying to say anything by that, just stating the facts as I see them and what I see myself reading. Which is sad, because I am actually Dominican. Well, Dominican-American, it's complicated, but I was born in New York and so was my mother, yet both my parent's grew up in DR.

So, when I was reading this book I liked seeing a l
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-and-ya
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 tha ...more
McGuffy Morris
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The teen years are a time of awakening for everyone. Each of us has our own set of circumstances, our own awakening. It is a time of leaving behind childhood, that which was created for you, and evolving into your own self.

The teen years are a time of making choices toward your future, by the steps you take. Consequences begin to have meaning. It is also a time when you become aware of the choices others are making, and the consequences they face, as well.

The Earthquake Machine takes us on Rhond
Jasmine Villanova
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Beneath the Moon and Stars review

This wasn't what I was expecting at all. I didn't really know what it was about when I said I would review it. The first half I didn't like very much. I've never read a book that has a lot of sexuality in it. At some points it made me uncomfortable. But this is one of those book that has real life issues in it. That is something I liked about this.I think the sexuality was a little much but it was also the whole concept of the book . The second half I loved. As s
Jessica Bronder
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rhonda has a tough life. He father owns a big pharmacy and brings home drugs to keep her mother mellow. He only friend is Jesus, the Mexican gardener. When he paints the trees, the homeowners association rallies together and calls INS and has him deported. This along with other things sets Rhonda’s mom off. Her father doesn’t help matters when he challenges her to do the right thing for Rhonda.

Rhonda is asked on a father/daughter vacation with her friends. Other stuff happens on the camping trip
We gave this book a 4/5 at (We were provided an ARC by the author.)

We often do discussion-style reviews on our site. Here's an excerpt:

"Rob: How did we all like it?
Amy: Liked it quite a bit. Don’t know if I LOVED it, but liked it very well.
Susie: Same. It wasn’t perfect but I liked it a lot.
Rob: That would sum it up for me too. The one thing I kept thinking the whole time I was reading it was that this is one book certain parents would raise hell to ban… and teenage girl
Robyn Hawk
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Mary Pauline Lowry offers up an action filled, brilliant debut novel that takes the reader on one WILD ride! ...and she pulls from her varied background to develop her characters and storyline.

The Earthquake Machine is the story of a very unhappy 14 year old Rhonda who "escapes" her painful home life to find the one person in her life that she has been able to rely on...Jesus, the family gardener. Her adventure takes her south of the border and teaches her the value of the people that surround y
Kristine Hansen
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kristine by: Mary Pauline Lowry
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book on the Goodreads Giveaway program in exchange for a unbiased review. :)

This is a book that sucked me in. From the moment I met Rhonda I wanted to know what would happen to her. Only 14 she's learned already at the hands of her parents that the world is cruel. Her only refuge is the gardener, Jesus, who is deported back to Mexico. With her life spiraling out of control, she flees to Mexico to find him.

Her journey is at times surreal, but amazing. The cast of characters she meets a
Celine Garcia
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 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 e ...more
Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Ahearn
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genre-fiction

The Earthquake Machine firmly subverts almost every convention in YA literature. And that's a good thing. The story is engaging and inventive at every turn and the book's writing and construction are first rate. But this book is not just an interesting story. It takes on gender, sexuality, religion, mysticism, and drug use in ways some may find shocking and uncomfortable and that others will find enormously liberating. Rhonda, the protagonist, is a true hero and the author, Mary Lowry, is braver
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome! This amazing gender-bending coming-of-age story doesn't shy away from life's complications. There are no easy answers. The protaganist is an amazingly reslient 14-year-old and, wow, does she have some adventures! Kick-ass story complete with road trip, (complicated) sexual experiences, death, and, of course, an earthquake machine!
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Girls, women
Read my review + a guest post from Mary Lowry here -->
Also enter the giveaway and get a chance to win a hard copy of The Earthquake Machine!
Jenny Hassibi
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A well written, thought-provoking story!
Mar 10, 2012 added it
The Earthquake Machine is a beautiful book that explores "el Otro Lado", the other side of everything, a necessary exploration for development. One of the best books I have read in a long time.
Damon Bramblett
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am biased but I loved it!
Jul 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012, review-request
I had high hopes for The Earthquake Machine. The author has lead what seemed an unconventionally interesting life, and the premise of a young girl adventure, a girl learning independence and resourcefulness - in a book for young adults not shying away from topics of violence, sexuality, and spirituality - sounded incredibly promising.

Unfortunately, this novel fell dreadfully short of such expectations. The story was disjointed, confusing, and contrived to the point of unbelievability - and whol
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Mary Pauline Lowry is a native of Austin, Texas. She is the author of The Roxy Letters (Simon & Schuster, April 2020) and Wildfire. She has an MFA from Boise State University.She's a regular contributor to O, the Oprah Magazine. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, The Millions, and other publications.
“That was what it meant to be a woman: to live in an unbearable agony hidden for a time behind smoke and mirrors.” 6 likes
“Most certain things are the most changeable.” 3 likes
More quotes…