Format: Electronic Copy
Acquired: From Author
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars
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, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation. Determined to find her friend Jesús, 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 Jesús.
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 little Hispanic heritage being involved in this novel, because I do want to see more of that out in the world. I think that Lowry was pretty awesome in the way she took up the novel.
Rhonda was such a naive character at the start of the novel and I just felt so bad for her. Her father was an outright monster, her friend's were so clueless I just wanted to punch them. Can someone explain to me why there seems to be a growing trend in which the best friend's of the protagonist are self-centered brainless idiots? I just don't get it. Yet, the girl's do become extremely helpful near the end, which is something that I really liked. So, I can't say they are completely useless.
But, anyways, Rhonda did some amazing development as the novel progressed. Rhonda started out as this little flower and at the end she becomes this exotic flower. She changes so much and I'm happy that it was something that went with the novel. The change was not instant, but took some serious developing and growing. And I also like the author's way of distinguishing Rhonda and Angel, but still keeps their identity.
I know it was bad of me, but I did a little laugh near the end when Rhonda was confronting her father. It was a serious and tense moment, but I just couldn't help it with all of Rhonda's demands. It seemed a little silly to me, but considering everything he put her through I would probably behave the same way. But I'm glad there was at least some closure there and that she got away before she ended up like her mother.
Overall, this book was a little different than what I was expecting and I liked that. It took me awhile to get into this book, but once I got going there was no stopping. Honestly, the four stars are for the slow start that this novel got. I wish that it picked up a little quicker, but at least there were some moments at the start that kept the book alive for me.
If there is a reader looking for something different and a little more diverse, I'd say give this novel a chance.