Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway - The Earthquake Machine

The Earthquake Machine
Mary Lowry
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's back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation. 
Determined to find her friend Jesus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Boquillas, 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 Jesus. 
Thus begins a wild adventure that explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish, and adult coming-of-age and Young Adult novels. (goodreads summary)

Paperback326 pages
Published September 2011 by AuthorHouse
When it comes to picking books I have three main criteria: 1. YA, 2. Romance in some fashion and 3. Swoonworthy boys. I don't often choose books that are outside of my comfort zone. Just like I always catch the same el every morning, walk the same route to work each day, and always end my texts with periods. How does this relate to The Earthquake Machine? It relates because based on the description of this book, my first response was, nah, I should read Anna and the French Kiss again. I like that book. But, I gave it a shot. Consensus? I liked it. I really liked it.

Where this book blew me away was the writing. Lowry's writing style is so beautiful and textured, describing otherwise uncomfortable scenes with poeticism that simultaneously enriches and heightens the scene. She has a way with words and a way of conveying such a colorful array of emotion.

It is a powerful story. Rhonda is a young girl dealing with very real issues. She finds herself faced with the decision to either kill herself or run away. In a way, she does both. She runs away and abandons the uncomfortable, scared girl on the other side of the border. Then what follows is an intense story about a girl on the path to discovering herself. I admire Rhonda. She is brave despite her brokenness. And I think her journey speaks volumes to girls who are lost in their own skins. Sometimes we feel helpless to change ourselves, but all it takes is a little courage and faith.

Okay, okay, about a third of the way in I was itching for the love story. What I can I say? I like the romance (and the kissing)! There is some kissing, but this is not a love story. And it shouldn't be. But because of this lack of love story, for me personally, I had to kind of kick myself to get through the half way point. I made it and am glad I did.

One disclaimer. This book is considered Young Adult, but even as a 20+ adult, I found some of the themes and scenes to be mature. It is a growing story that is beautifully done, but not a light weight read. 

Overall, though this book doesn't fall into my comfort zone, I can still attest for what a beautiful, powerful and strong story this is. Though I will warn you of the following. You will be uncomfortable. You will cry. And you will grow. But as is life. It is full of moments where we want to run the other way or weep. In the end, we have a choice to keep going and face these difficult moments so that we can grow.

Thanks to Mary Lowry for providing me with The Earthquake Machine for read and review. And if you want to read it too -- which I highly recommend you do, enter to win an ecopy courtesy of Mary. And on Thursday come by again for a very special guest post by Mary herself where she will discuss life, writing and finding time for both.


Questions? Comments? Snide remarks?