Sunday, January 11, 2015

Throw Like a Woman, by Susan Petrone

The Story Plant, ISBN 9781611881998, March 2015

Brenda Haversham is a forty-year-old divorced mother of two boys who is struggling to make ends meet. She's working in an insurance company, having abandoned her art and her graphic design career when she married. She's never played baseball except with her sons and, long ago, with her late father.

But her father taught her to throw a mean fastball. And curveball. And sinker. And a few other pitches.

On a Little League outing with her sons to a Cleveland Indians game, she takes a turn in the pitcher's cage, and one of her pitches is clocked at 82 miles an hour. Her son's coach recruits her onto his own recreational league baseball team, and she unknowingly takes the first steps on a wild trip to becoming a female Jackie Robinson.

I love Brenda, and I love this book. Brenda is a flawed but fundamentally decent human being, a loving mother, and a tough ball player. She struggles with her personal demons in an utterly recognizable way. The other characters are also layered, human, and understandable. Thirteen-year-old Andy is as difficult as any kid trying to make that transition from child to adult, but I suspect most parents would give a lot to have a son or daughter maturing as Andy is.

It's a bumpy ride for Brenda and everyone around her, but an engrossing and ultimately very satisfying one.

Highly recommended.