PRAISE FOR SUSAN PETRONE'S THROW LIKE A WOMAN:“While, on the surface, this is a novel about a woman battling to make her way in the man’s world of professional baseball, debut author Petrone presents a stirring and humorous story of a woman doing considerably more than thattrying to rediscover herself, provide for her family, and perhaps find a little love along the way.” – Booklist “Throw Like a Woman is that rare baseball novel, both a paean to the game and a deeper exploration of character. Susan Petrone has a fan’s heart and a scout’s eye. Read it now. Don’t wait for the movie.” – Stewart O’Nan, co-author of Faithful and A Face in the Crowd “For baseball fans who yearn for a female Jackie Robinson, reading Susan Petrone’s fun and absorbing novel Throw Like a Woman becomes a kind of prayer. ‘Please, Lord! Give talent a chance. Let this dream come true!’” – Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow “Someday there will be a woman who plays Major League Baseball. And when it happens, I suspect it will be an awful lot like Susan Petrone’s fun Throw Like a Woman. Susan knows baseball and so the novel – and her hero Brenda Haversham – crackles with authenticity. You can hear the pop of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt.” – Joe Posnanski, author of The Soul of Baseball, NBC Sports National Columnist “Petrone’s storytelling is first-rate, and she weaves a credible baseball tale with well-defined characters throughout.” – The Wave
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Imagine the woman you can't see.
Imagine the woman who can't be seen.
It sounds like the same thing, doesn't it? In both cases, there's an invisible woman. But the distinction is both grammatical and metaphysical. The first is a failure of the viewer's attention. The second is the woman's choice.
The woman you can't see is actually easy on the eyes, if a bit on the short side. She's thin. Not stick-figure thin but the kind of thin that comes from years of running and countless hours contorting on a yoga mat in an effort to maintain until she dies, to remain as lean and wiry and, let's face it, attractive for the next forty-seven years as she was for the first forty-seven. Her grandmother McQuestion, the one from whom Abra McQuestion inherited a first name and not much else, lived to be ninety-four, and that has always seemed as good an age as any to aspire to. It's the age, forty-seven, that keeps you from seeing her. Forty-seven is not old, not the way Methuselah and dirt and George Burns were old. It is, however, old enough to divert the infamous male gaze to other, younger subjects. It's old enough to be ignored.
For instance, forty-seven is probably double the age of the two young women who couldn't see Abra and walked right in front of her at the grocery store. She stopped by after work to pick up some avocados for the guacamole she was supposed to bring to the office Cinco de Mayo party the next day. She wasn't particularly fond of office parties, but senior staff at Hoffmann Software Solutions were expected to set a good example. It didn't help matters that much of the office still thought Abra was part-Mexican instead of half-Dominican and assumed this was a major holiday for her. Tomorrow Mike Horowitz, the head of Finance, would no doubt give her two thumbs up and chirp, "Viva Mexico!" Every Single Time they passed in the hallway.
So much to look forward to, she thought as she approached the prominent Cinco de Mayo display near the produce section. Bags of tortilla chips and jars of the store's private label salsa were displayed on wooden crates neatly arranged on a round table with a red-, green-, and white-striped tablecloth. Next to the table were two gigantic wooden bowls of avocados, one marked "conventionally grown," the other "organic." Abra took the same attitude toward purchasing organic produce as she did toward food safety while traveling in Third World countries: if you don't eat the peel, you don't have anything to worry about.
She was a step away from the nonorganic bowl when two younger women sidled up to the display and cut directly in front of her. Their shiny blond-highlighted hair was only inches away from Abra's nose.
"Excuse me," Abra said. The young women either didn't hear or didn't care to acknowledge her presence. They just went right on choosily selecting avocados, chatting away about nothing, shifting their ridiculously curvy hips from one shapely leg to another. Abra had been young once. Young and hot. She didn't begrudge these girls their youth or their unblemished skin or their pipe cleaner — like upper arms. Her own arms had better definition, enough to consistently garner compliments whenever she wore a sleeveless shirt. This wasn't a competition of appearance. What troubled her was their complete dismissal of her existence. Abra drew herself up to her full five feet two inches, willing herself to be as large as possible. "Excuse me, but I was here first," she said. "You just cut in front of me."
The toady sidekick turned first. Then the second, the queen bee, turned around. "Oh. Sorry," Queen Bee said. Her voice dropped to a low register on the second syllable, making the apology sound decidedly ironic. "We didn't see you." Having already gotten what they came for, the two young women walked away. As they passed the oranges, one whispered something to the other, and they both giggled.
* * *
"You aren't invisible. They were just assholes." This was Katherine's answer the next morning during their run. She and Abra met up most mornings to run through Euclid Creek Park, a narrow metropark that snaked alongside a rare two-and-a-half-mile stretch of suburban creek that wasn't culverted. "Sometimes four miles in the morning is the only thing standing between me and homicide." This was another Katherinism. She was given to declarative statements.
Running was the basis of their friendship. They had met twelve years earlier, during the five-mile Memorial Day race at John Carroll University, whose campus was just a few miles down the road. The race had taken place the day after Katherine's thirty-fifth birthday. Thirty-five felt like a make-or-break year in every aspect of her life — career, marriage, fertility. It was the year she completed her master's in biology; as a teacher that meant a pay raise. And it was the year she and Hal decided they would keep trying to get pregnant for just a little longer — after that, maybe adoption, maybe consider life as a child-free couple.
For the first half mile of the race through twisty, hilly University Heights, Katherine had been aware of the ultra-fit woman with insanely curly hair who seemed to have taken up permanent residence half a step behind her left shoulder. She tried speeding up to drop her, but the woman kept pace easily. In smaller races, Katherine could typically place in her age group if she ran smart — not going out too fast and running negative splits the whole way. The stranger running just behind her with the overly placid expression that made it appear she wasn't even trying looked to be approximately the same age. She'd kick herself if this chick placed ahead of her.
Katherine did the first mile in 7:02. In a 5K, that wouldn't be a problem. For a five-miler, it was too quick. She was already sucking wind from going out too fast. Instead of doing negative splits with a little gas left in the tank to sprint the last eighth of a mile, she'd let the skinny chick behind her get under her skin and make her blow her race strategy.
Easing up her pace made her a little less annoyed at the woman behind her. As she slowed, she faintly but distinctly heard the words "Oh, thank God" coming from somewhere next to her. She looked to her left and saw the skinny chick still running next to her. It took all her self-control not to speed up again. Repeating "Just run your own race" to herself over and over, she almost didn't hear the skinny chick say, "You set a good pace." She didn't sound out of breath.
Katherine tried not to huff as she replied, "Thanks."
"I haven't raced in ages, so I thought I'd follow someone with a challenging pace. Hope that's okay."
She was silently pleased that the woman audibly sucked in a gulp of air before saying the words "challenging pace." Well, the skinny chick might have a complexion to die for, but she was at least human. Katherine smiled and gave a quick "Sure" in reply.
They ran beside each other in silence for the next two miles. Katherine noticed that the woman had an almost perfect stride — loose but controlled upper body and quick legs that hardly seemed to touch the ground. She was built like a runner too. Not tall, but proportionately long-limbed and lean. Katherine wondered when the last time was this chick had eaten a brownie. As they ran, she became aware that her own pace had grown steadier and smoother. And when the timekeeper at mile three called out, "Twenty-two, forty-seven," she realized she was still well on pace to come in under her goal of thirty-eight minutes. Reluctantly, she had to admit she enjoyed running with this stranger.
"You're good," she said finally, aware that this was a fairly hollow statement. There were plenty of good runners in this race. It was just that this skinny chick was clearly more than your average recreational runner.
The woman smiled, a broad, genuine grin. "Thank you," she said. Then, almost as if she were admitting a juvenile arrest, added, "I was a sprinter in high school and college." She took a deep breath. "What about you?"
Katherine smiled back and managed to say, "My only organized sport was slam dancing. I was kind of a punk."
"My senior year in high school, I was the only one at Regionals with a Mohawk," the woman offered.
Katherine tried not to slow down her pace as they talked, but this woman was turning out to be kind of cool. "Excellent," she replied.
Somehow this exchange cemented a mutual spark, a feeling of kinship, and they comfortably ran alongside each other to the end of the race. They both began their final sprint at the same moment, and when they hit the chute at the finish, Abra let Katherine go first. They finished a second apart. That feeling of camaraderie, not competition, was still what Katherine got when she ran with Abra. No one else could get her motivated to run four miles at five-thirty in the morning.
Sometimes they talked on their morning runs; mostly they just listened to the pad-pad-pad of their own shoes on the pedestrian trail that ran through the park. In the dead of Cleveland winters, they'd hit adjacent treadmills at the Hillcrest YMCA. There was something deliciously hypnotic about the never-ending whirr of the treadmill in the gym that sometimes seemed to propel her feet forward involuntarily. The only problem was the scenery never changed. Katherine preferred running outdoors. She loved the infinite variety of the world. No matter how many times they ran the same route, there was always a different bird singing a different song or an unusual cloud formation to catch her eye.
It usually took a mile or so before Katherine started feeling like her body hit equilibrium. In the first few minutes of a run, she could almost feel her cells pulling glucose from her blood and devouring it, could feel her muscles demanding more and more oxygen, and always, always could feel her heart and lungs struggling to keep up with the demand. Time was when she could start running and seemingly within a few steps feel warmed up and ready to go at a race pace. Now that she was a little older, it seemed to take longer and longer to get to that delicious moment of balance when all her muscles were working in sync and she had oxygen to burn. They hadn't changed the route. It was her body that was changing, had changed. As they ran, Katherine felt the slightest little jiggle in her lower belly. That was another recent development, one that seemed to coincide with the cessation of her period. The lack of estrogen had altered the nature of her body fat. Screw getting older, she thought and willed herself to pass up Abra.
The park followed the creek downhill. They ran an out-and-back loop. Geography necessitated that the first half of their run was downhill and the second half uphill. They could have driven to the low end of the park so that the uphill portion of the run was first, but driving just to run seemed like a waste of time.
Running uphill is decidedly more difficult than running downhill, especially when it's the second half of the run. It hurts. The hurts part was the crux of Katherine's love-hate relationship with their near-daily route. She disliked the pain but loved the feeling of pushing her body past the point of uncomfortable. It was the closest a middle-aged, suburban female might get to feeling like a warrior on a regular basis.
At their usual turnaround this morning, Abra didn't slow her pace. If anything, she sped up a little. Katherine kept up with her for about half a mile then felt herself starting to fall behind. The pace was just too aggressive. "Geez, give an old lady a break," she huffed, trying to keep pace. They weren't even on the steep part yet. She hated to think a hill she ran every day could break her, but there it was.
Abra jogged back and stopped in front of Katherine, hands on her hips. "I'm four months older than you," she said pointedly but breathing a bit heavy. "You won't be forty-seven until the end of the month." She started back up the hill at the same pace.
Katherine ran up the hill after her. "Did those girls at the grocery store piss you off that much?" she asked. Typically they wouldn't allow themselves to walk until they had at least reached the crest of the last hill at the end of the park. Abra didn't reply but cut her pace down to a slow jog. It was enough of an answer until they were out of the park and on the sidewalk by the war memorial. To the left was East Anderson and Katherine's house; to the right, West Anderson and Abra's house.
They stood on the cracked slate-slab sidewalk for a moment, catching their breath before they went their separate ways. Then Abra said, "Yes, those skanky, pissy little brats at the grocery store annoyed me far more than they should have." She sighed, not a catching-her-breath sigh but a genuine melancholy-infused sigh. "It was like they couldn't even see me."
Katherine wanted to say something wise and comforting, but all she could think of was to ask "Do you want to come over for breakfast? Anna and I will drive you home." "No, thank you. I need to get to work early. The trade show last week completely screwed up my schedule and now I'm behind." As she was saying this, Abra started walking backward up the street, as though three slow steps now would save her time later.
"But you're still going to the science fair on Monday night, right? Anna really wants you to see her hybrid fish."
"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss it. I had no idea you could cross a guppy with an endler."
"If you leave a male and a female alone long enough, they will eventually get it on, regardless of species."
Abra rolled her eyes and turned on her heel.
"It's part of the wonder of nature," Katherine called as Abra ran up the block. Then she was gone, and Katherine turned toward home.CHAPTER 2
Sometimes you need to remind yourself that just about everything you're feeling is normal. For instance, periodically reassessing your decision to have children is normal. Margie reconsidered her decision to have children about once week. Sometimes it was because Grant seemed to think eleven-year-old boys didn't need to bathe unless they showed actual dirt. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it might be because Eli had left yet another wet towel on the floor and dumped another pile of once-worn, non-dirty clothes into the hamper, none of which he would actually put into the washing machine. Sometimes it was the general malaise that goes along with the realization that one will never again have anything resembling privacy or a clean house. And sometimes, the worst of times, it was because Joan was being fourteen with a vengeance.
Her daughter was brilliant, athletic, studious, and routinely mortified by her mother's existence. Knowing that such mortification is endemic didn't make it any easier to live with. The current drama revolved around the District Science Fair. To be fair, Margie loved watching Joan develop her complex biochemistry experiment. It was one of those happy, gooey parenting experiences that made the perpetual lack of privacy, silence, and disposable income completely worthwhile. She had gladly helped negotiate the loan of a CO pump, a pressure cell, and a collecting vessel from Hal, Katherine's chemist husband. She had also volunteered a cheek swab for Joan's analysis (and recruited Katherine, Abra, and a few other women to do the same). She had given opinions on data chart formats (only when asked) and been as supportive yet hands-off as humanly possible. The formal title of Joan's project was "Soy-Derived Phytoestrogens and Breast Cancer: Is There a Link?" However, Margie privately referred to it as "That Fucking Science Project."
Everyone but Eli had been sucked into the science fair vortex. As a senior, he had opted out of the whole affair (and was, Margie thought, perhaps a bit too smugly gleeful about it). Grant had dutifully created a respectable-but-probably-not-prize-winning project on the physics of baseball. His project mainly consisted of close-up photos (with explanations) of his right hand demonstrating how to grip a curveball, slider, and four-seam fastball and a video played on Oh-So-Continuous loop of him demonstrating each pitch and explaining why the grip made the ball move a certain way. Karl just stayed the hell out of the way, leaving his wife to listen to Joan's detailed explanations of the project (which was fun to hear) and her even-more-detailed rants about a girl named Eileen O'Brien, who was the only serious competition in the district at the eighth grade level (which was a drag to hear).
"The state science fair only takes one entrant per grade level from each school district," Joan informed her for the twenty-seventh time the day before the science fair.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Super Ladies"
Copyright © 2018 Susan Petrone.
Excerpted by permission of Studio Digital CT, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What would you do if you unexpectedly received superpower abilities? Would you rise up and learn how to use them for a greater good? In The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone, forty-seven-year-old best friends Margie, Katherine, and Abra are living conventional lives and dealing with personal issues mixed in with the beginning of menopausal changes. But when a science fair project unexpectedly goes wrong and explodes liquified tofu slime all over them, these ladies discover that they suddenly feel different ... a little off ... and have acquired unique internal superpowers! They have new abilities of indestructible strength, invisibility, and heat that can make a difference, so they decide to harness their powers and use them as crime-fighting superheroes in the Cleveland suburbs... Katherine as Indestructa, Abra as Shadow, and Margie as The Schvitz ... The Super Ladies! This was such a fun read that definitely peaked my interest. Who wouldn't love to have a superpower?! I really enjoyed following Katherine, Margie, and Abra as they discovered their superpower abilities and learned to use them for a greater good. As these ladies intertwined their personal lives and the changes that come with menopause, it was really cool to see them rediscover themselves and gain a newfound role in their lives that gave them a new sense of self-confidence. The individual superhero activities that they embarked on made me smile, but when they went on the Super Ladies adventure, I couldn't help but laugh-out-loud at the situations that they got themselves into. I enjoyed their escapades so much that I wanted to read more ... maybe a sequel will be in the works? The Super Ladies is a wonderful women's fiction story that is amusing, uplifting, and empowering. This is the kind of story that makes menopause and the changes that come with it seem a little bit easier to embrace ... it makes you wish that you could have your very own internal superpower!
Three women: Abra and Katherine are not running from anything, just towards the finish line of the race. Margie…a husband and couple kids keeps her busy, as does her work. A school science project goes drastically wrong and changes their lives forever. Abra had always felt invisible, now… Margie changes the meaning of hot flash… Katherine has strength, power, and doesn’t feel pain. Go ahead. Try and hurt her. I DARE you. Now, what will they do with their superpowers? I mean playing games, like when Abra was practicing her invisibility….I saw her in my mind and busted out laughing, was not enough for them. They wanted to do good. And an incident in Chapter 13…grinning ear to ear. I enjoyed this lighthearted, fun and easy reading super hero story, with quirky ladies that had me laughing to the end. I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone.
Three middle age suburban women start feeling that the “change of life “ might not be something to look forward to. At this exact time of their lives something happens to give them super powers. What happens next is the tale of Margie, Katherine, Abra and their families as they deal with the changes these new surprising powers bring. This is a great romp, that explores mid-life challenges, family and friendships. I highly recommend this and Susan Petrone’s first novel, Throw Like a Woman.
Life for suburban moms Margie, Katherine and Abra is just what you might expect as they hit their late 40’s. Children will be going off to college soon, marital bliss is waning, and bodies are slowing down. One day to the next has become routine over the years and menopause is on the horizon. Life, in other words, has lost the excitement of their earlier years. Then, in a strange turn of events, the three ladies suddenly find they have acquired certain strengths, superpowers if you will, after an accident involving tofu and a Bunsen burner. Thing is, these are no “normal” superpowers and the ladies have to figure out what to do with them and how to keep it all secret. Still, it’s fun to be able to do special things and helping other people is a blast. The Super Ladies is a treat and so are the ladies themselves, now living their own special adventure. Humor and the usual superheroes air of fun and action make this a really appealing and unique story. Best of all is Ms. Petrone’s focus on middle-aged women instead of a thirty-something gorgeous woman and I hope we’ll see more of the super ladies.
I want to be a super lady. They are so cool. I haven't yet decided what super power I want. How do you get these super powers? You're not going to believe this one. And it happened at such a time in life that all these ladies really needed something. This is a laugh out loud kind of book that I didn't want to end. Please, Ms Petrone. Tell us this is just a first book and many more super ladies books will follow. You can't cut off such a good thing. ***Book provided without charge by PICT.***
This book has a little bit of everything. There is the superhero element, female friendship, and other chick lit things. I enjoyed this, as it was a quick read on a hot summer day.
The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone From the descriptions this sounds like a great read, a little bit of something for everybody. Love how lives are intwined and they are there for each other supporting and helping in any way they can, at the children's sporting and science fairs. Starts out with a gathering of the women and a chemical reaction when the experiment goes bad...the women sense the changes but have no idea what they mean. Women are from the Cleveland area and liked learning about their careers and family life situations. When I realize what happened it's like wow this could really happen in todays world. Some hiliarous moments! Like how the women embrace the changes and learn to live with them and how they open up to others who questions their talents. Don't read during the weekend but sneaked away several minutes listening to this book-couldn't put it down! Love how the story got started and I do now enjoy comic strip type brought to the screen movies. Love lesson about how everybody has a talent, everybody is good at something. If we all harnessed it we can change the world for the better. Other works by the author are summarized and highlighted at the end with an excerpt. Would love to read more from this author as the topics interest me. Received this review copy from The Story Plant via Netgalley and this is my honest opinion. #TheSuperLadies #NetGalley