By Mary Pauline Lowry
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 Rhonda’s journey to herself. She is a fourteen year old girl coming into herself. She is becoming aware of life around her, and her place in it.
Rhonda sees her mentally ill mother with serious issues. Rhonda’s father deals with these issues by keeping her mother heavily medicated. Obviously neither parent is there for Rhonda. The person she feels closest to is the family gardener, Jesus. When he is deported back to his native Mexico, it affects Rhonda deeply.
Suddenly, Rhonda is on a mission to find Jesus. She makes choices about herself, her life, and takes steps to change things. Rhonda takes off on a journey across the border and into Mexico to find her friend. This forces her to change her identity to a male, to ensure her safety as she travels across the Mexican desert on the back of a burro.
This adventurous young adult novel deals with serious and immediate issues. Mary Pauline Lowry bravely writes of gender and sexism, as well as the cultural differences between the United States and Mexico. She has written a bold and important coming of age novel. I look forward to reading more from this insightful author.