Mar 28, 2012

Guest Post: The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry (+Giveaway)

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry
September 2011 from AuthorHouse

My novel The Earthquake Machine tells the story of a 14 year-old American girl named Rhonda who runs away while on a river rafting trip in Big Bend National Park. Rhonda leaves behind her tragic family situation to flee towards the Mexican state of Oaxaca in search of her family’s yardman J├ęsus. In order to be able to travel more safely, Rhonda transforms her appearance so that she can “pass” as a Mexican boy named Angel. The story chronicles Rhonda/Angel’s sexual and spiritual coming-of-age.

The novel explores the borders between Texas and Mexico, English and Spanish, adolescence and adulthood, life and death; but it also pushes the boundary separating Young Adult and adult coming-of-age novels. (I imagine this novel to have wide crossover appeal and it’s primary audience to be women age 16—35 years old).

While extreme violence is considered acceptable in Young Adult novels (think The Hunger Games), explicit sex is not. Thus The Earthquake Machine, with its exploration of the sexual awakening of a very young female protagonist, has caused a bit of a stir. Book bloggers have generally responded with enthusiasm to the novel, and many say it’s unlike anything they’ve ever read. (Insatiable Booksluts call it “Huck Finn with vibrators!”)
But there have been strong negative reactions to the novel’s contents as well.

A good example of the pushback I’ve received comes from a fairly well-known YA author to whom I sent a copy of the novel for review. She states, "This isn't YA, it's erotica." Another reviewer wrote, "Don't get me wrong, I like a little bit of smut, but maybe I am too much of a prude. I don't know. I am used to YA books being a little more clean."

This disapprobation from Ms. Clean-Reads hit me like a slap in the face. But then I had to giggle. Erotica? She certainly hasn’t read much of it if she thinks my adventure story falls into that category.

To alleviate the lingering sting of Ms. Clean-Reads email, I nightly read an editor’s rejection of Nabokov’s brilliant (and disgusting) novel Lolita. The outraged editor wrote: “This book should be buried under a stone for a thousand years.” While I personally hate Lolita, I have to admit it’s a literary masterpiece; and the editor’s rejection of said book serves to remind me that good art often offends.

As a young (and precocious) reader, I searched for books that gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to navigate magical, dangerous, sometimes treacherous landscapes. But I always longed for more such books with daring female protagonists. And so I’ve dedicated myself to writing them.

History shows that books that are banned or challenged are quite often worth reading; and that those who seek to keep such controversial books from readers are often hoping to hide/deny very real truths these novels contain. I hope that readers will be brave and open-minded enough to give The Earthquake Machine a go. I think many will be more delighted than shocked by it s contents.

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You can find Lowry at her website

Thank you, Mary for the insightful post! I have always understood YA literature to go up to 20 years-old. While I wouldn't exactly be over the moon about my daughter reading something like this at the age of 13, I can see why an older teenager would like this book.

Mary has been kind enough to giveaway a copy so you can read for yourself! Fill out the doo-hickey below to be officially entered. Contest rules are listed on the copter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This sounds really interesting. I'm full of intrigue. I do have some thoughts on the subject but I'd like to read the book before really commenting.

  2. I agree about the intense violence that is found in young adult books vs. exploration of sexuality. This sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for the chance to read it!

  3. Yup, this sounds like a banned book. I love some of the reviews that the author included in this post! "Huck Finn with vibrators!" YA erotica with responsible characters, if it existed, would certainly be an improvement over Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, which tweens covertly read and pass around.

    I wonder if the cover depicts Rhonda before she tries to "pass" as a Mexican boy. The cover is distinctly feminine with the overall pink wash (reminds me of Pink Smog by Francesca Lia Block) and eye make-up.

    (commenting as Justine)

  4. I understand why people are more sensitive to having sex in YA novels than violence as many people think that if teens are reading it them must be doing it which is not true. For some reason people believe teens are more likely to get pregnant than to punch someone when really most of the sexual themes in literature are nothing new to them. The book cover in itself has an alluring appeal to it which hints at the story inside.
    All in all, the book sound really interesting and I hope to get a chance to read it.
    commenting as chloecapri

  5. The plot of this book sounds fascinating, and since I'm pretty open to more mature content in YA (I'm a huge Francesca Lia Block fan), I think I'd like it! I'm planning to read it whether or not I win the giveaway.


  6. This book actually sounds really interesting. I hope I get the chance to read it. :D