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The Earthquake Machine Paperback – September 29, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1456795856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456795856
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,076,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as an open water lifeguard, construction worker, forest firefighter, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

More About the Author


Mary Pauline Lowry worked for two years as a forest firefighter on the elite Pike Interagency Hotshot Crew based on the Pike National Forest in Colorado. "Hotshots are the best-trained and best-equipped wildland firefighters, sometimes referred to as the Navy SEALs of their profession" (Rolling Stone Magazine). As a Hotshot, Lowry traveled all over the American West with her crew fighting wildfires ranging in size from single tree lightening strikes to 20,000 acre blazes. Hotshot crews are "hand crews" that do not use water to fight blazes. Instead they dig a firebreak or "fireline" around the fire to deprive it of fuel. With her crew, Lowry hiked or was helicoptered in to fires and dug fireline for 15 hours or more a day. During fire season, she and her crew would work 21 days at a time fighting fire and camping out.

Lowry left the Hotshot crew to attend graduate school, receiving an M.A. in English (concentration Creative Writing) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Lowry is a native of Austin, TX, currently residing in Orange County, CA.

She writes for xoJane and the Huffington Post.

Customer Reviews

I don't want to go too much into the story and give away what happens.
Amazon Customer
Filled with beautiful writing, stunning imagery, and a story you can get lost in, Lowry's debut novel is a wonderful example of how to write a book.
T. Sparks
I loved the story, its setting, and in particular the voice of its main character.
CurlyGeek04

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Raven DeLajour on February 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
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 knew it was going to be different when I read the description, and my expectations were not only met but surpassed.

Mary hits on so many labels and categories we take for granted in this book. Through Rhonda, the main character, she explores the tightly knit connections between sexism, racism, and classism. She explores gender and gender roles, the patriarchal institution of religion, and how a woman can gain power if she finds her inner voice. In the beginning of the novel, Rhonda is a young fourteen year old, but by the end of the novel she has gone through so many experiences and hardships that it would be foolish to call her a mere girl. She has matured from a doubting girl who is unsure of herself and afraid of the world to a mature person, one who has stepped between that shadowy line of young girl and young woman.

I was very pleased and surprised by the feminist tone of this novel. In this day and age, feminism is still under attack even though sexism continues to hurt women everywhere. One of the things I really admired about this novel was how Mary shows that life can be good or bad on either side of the border, especially for women. Rhonda's father is an excellent example of how a man can suppress a woman, change her drastically to a shell of a person.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Sake VINE VOICE on February 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
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 guard. The author really did a fantastic job with Rhonda's character in general - I was really able to get inside her head and experience what she was going through, sometimes more than I might have liked. I also enjoyed that the author had the guts to cover so many controversial and private topics in one book. It's honestly a lot to take in, but Ms. Lowry really exceeded my expectations with The Earthquake Machine and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it.

On a side note, I was so interested in the woman behind this book that I even went to the author's website to find out more about her (I never do that) and was quite taken with her blog post about "Alien She" by Bikini Kill. Come on now, how much cooler can this lady get? It's really no wonder why I liked her book so much. Everyone should read it.

Reviewed by Brittany for Book Sake.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jade E on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 self-publishing story did as well. I had high expectations for this book and I can tell you that it did not disappoint. On the author's website, there is a disclaimer,

"Mary's agent didn't want to send out The Earthquake Machine to editors. The book was perhaps too edgy. Editors would be afraid to take a chance on such a wild ride. And so Mary decided to give readers a chance to find her."

There are so many things to say about this disclaimer. First...how courageous is she? To be able to understand how different your book is from mainstream fiction and to take a chance on readers finding the book is inspiring. I love that she does not want to conform to what is mainstream or politically correct. And the disclaimer is absolutely true. This book is extremely edgy and I could see many people not understanding how to take this book in or appreciate what Lowry has written. I appreciate that Lowry decided to go a different route with this novel and I'm extremely grateful it fell into my hands.

The Good: The Earthquake Machine is a dirty novel. Really, I'm not lying. It's dirty in the sense that it gets into your skin, deep down inside, scrubs all the clean out of you and then replaces everything with grit and dirt. Lowry strips away all conventions in this novel. Rhonda is not your typical girl nor will she ever be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Siren007 on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
At first glance the plotline of The Earthquake Machine had me a bit skeptical: girl is essentially orphaned when her indifferent, self-absorbed father drives her mentally ill mother to suicide, so girl runs away to Mexico. I suspected I would lose interest before the halfway point. I was very happily mistaken.

The Earthquake Machine is a lush, wild adventure, not only through the motley terrain and vibrant culture of Mexico, but also through the awakening mind of the 14 year old protagonist. Rhonda is a lonely Everygirl who, with her mother's suicide, loses what little love and safety life held for her. She's stuck in an empty house with her terminally apathetic father who expects her to keep her mouth shut, do as she's told and stay out of his way. But Rhonda isn't going down without a fight like her mother did. She refuses to fit into the mold society has made for girls. Instead she hauls ass across the border alone in search of Jesus, her family's recently deported gardener who is her one real friend.

And so begins an utterly unparalleled adventure story. Rhonda crosses over, cuts her hair, dresses as a boy and calls herself Angel. She starves off the impending blossom of puberty. As a boy, she can lose herself. She can do anything. She is determined to make it down to Jesus' village to find him no matter what. As a reader, I enjoyed losing myself in Rhonda's transformation. I cheered her scrappiness and determination, her blind faith in her self-appointed mission. I rooted for Angel every step of the way, no matter what half-starved, peyote tripping shenanigans she got into.

Lowry's exquisite prose dazzled me. Her characters jump effortlessly to life, fully formed and completely believable.
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