My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 4 days
Blurb From Goodreads
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, Jes s. But when the INS deports Jes?'s back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation. Determined to find her friend Jes s, 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 Jes s. Thus begins a wild adventure that explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish, and adult coming-of-age and Young Adult novels.
Rhonda is 14 years old and our main character. Her father she despises, her mother isn't herself mentally and the only person she connects with is their Mexican gardener Jesus. When Rhonda over hears something and tragedy strikes she decides to run away and find Jesus after he has been deported back to Mexico. What follows is a path of self discovery, identity crisis, new relationships and a whole new look at her faith.
I really struggled with this book and it was mainly because there was so much going on in it, it felt like it could have been 50+ different stories as there was so many huge issues and topics. She is 14 years old and experiences two major blows in a short time which causes her to run away. As well as this (and identity issues) there is the whole obsession and hate for the man who ended her childhood. The gift she gets for a elderly lady (also the books namesake) - that I found both weird and unsettling.
Reading about her journey was hard as she is a young girl traveling alone, facing dangerous situations and having to resort to things you wouldn't feel as bad about if it was an adult. A lot of the things I just found hard to swallow, the visions, the attitudes of the gang of carjackers and the husbands response to them.
If you are a deeply religious person you may find some of Rhonda/Angels views outrageous and upsetting. The self discovery and intimacy may also be too much as your reading about a 14 year old girl, however if none of that is an issue for you and you like your stories jam-packed with unconnected situations then you will love this story (it has quite a few 4 and 5 star reviews) but it just wasn't for me. So much action gave me a headache trying to follow it and figure out where it was going next.
I would like to thank the author for giving me the chance to read and review her work but this time for me it is a 2/5.
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