MOST INFLUENTIAL MOVIE I’VE EVER SEEN
The summer I was 15, the movie THELMA AND LOUISE came out. In the film actors SUSAN SARANDON and GINA DAVIS star as two best friends going on a weekend trip to a cabin. But before they make it to the cabin, they stop at a honky tonk for a couple of drinks and dancing. When a man from the bar tries to sexually assault THELMA, LOUISE shoots the man dead. The two women then go on the run from the law, and in the process learn a lot about being truly wild and enjoying life.
I went to see the film about five times at the theatre, and then promptly climbed out my bedroom window and ran away from home. I left a note for my parents with a quote from the JOHN IRVING novel THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE. The note said, “Life is serious, but art is fun!” I went first to South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico, and finally crossed into Matamoros, Mexico for a bit.
Running away is incredibly dangerous and most runaways become crime victims in a very short time. (This was certainly true for THELMA & LOUISE, even though they were grown women and only “running away” for the weekend). But for me, it was a fun and liberating experience. The memory of it stuck with me, and ultimately inspired me to write my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE about a girl named RHONDA who runs away from home and swims across the Rio Grande river. She then cuts her hair and dies it black so she can “pass” as a Mexican boy named ANGEL and travel safely deep into the interior of Mexico.
The novel is about a girl grappling with what it means to grow up female and who decides to step out of the confines of her life as she knows it by crossing into another country, another language, another gender, another life. It’s a true adventure story and is meant to be both beautiful and fun. I hope it inspires other women and girls to take risks, enjoy life, and support one another.
The Earthquake Machine
The book every girl should read,
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. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, 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.