I wrote my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE so that women and girls could experience an incredible adventure through the main character RHONDA, who swims across the Rio Grande River to Mexico and transforms herself into a Mexican boy named ANGEL by cutting and dying her hair. She then sets off across Mexico to find her one true friend. By “passing” as a Mexican boy, RHONDA blends in with her new and exotic surroundings and doesn’t have to be scared.
I think as women and girls we often long for amazing adventures ourselves, but sometimes we don’t have them because we’re afraid. We’ve been told that we have to “stay safe” and avoid situations where we might be in danger. The world remains a large and often violent place. And sometimes just being a woman makes us more visible and more vulnerable.
Even though THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is a wild, fantastical tale and not at all realistic, I still believe firmly that real life women and girls can push ourselves (and encourage each other) to have adventures as wonderful and amazing as the one RHONDA/ANGEL has. And we can all make a start by reading books that show us strong girls taking risks.
The Earthquake Machine
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.
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 Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, 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. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.
Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. At 15, she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.
Thank you Mary for this lovely guest post and stopping by!