Middle-Age Women Discover Superpowers in Susan Petrone's 'Super Ladies'

Susan Petrone, author of "The Super Ladies"
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Susan Petrone likes the aspirational tone of superhero stories, but she was tired of reading about “young muscular dudes” as superheroes.

Petrone, of South Euclid, centered her new novel, “The Super Ladies,” on three middle-aged women who develop superpowers living in suburban Cleveland. The idea came to her on a hot, sleepless summer night.

“I kept thinking, ‘gee, I wonder if this is what a hot flash feels like,’” she said. “As your mind tends to wander when you are trying to fall sleep, I started thinking about the three different characters and all the different ways that middle-age maladies could turn into a superpower.”

After a child’s science experiment goes awry, the three main characters realize new powers. Margie develops the power to burn things with hot flashes. Abra, feeling unnoticed out in public, actually becomes invisible.  Katherine stops menstruating and no longer bleeds- or injures- becoming indestructible. 

“There are a lot of physical vulnerabilities that come with being female,” Petrone said. “What if you had nothing to fear from anyone of anything? How would that make navigating the world as female different? These characters get to do that.”

Petrone writes with humor while challenging ideas about gender and power.

Her comedic approach helps the “medicine go down” with readers and reflects how she found her voice as the youngest child in a large family, she said.

“The Super Ladies” is her second novel, published by The Story Plant. The first, “Throw Like a Woman,” follows the story of a divorced mom who makes her way into Major League Baseball.

She is working on a third novel, set in Youngstown in the 70s, based on a family story. A seven-year-old-girl with a talent for picking the daily lottery numbers and her great uncle seek to find the men who robbed her grandmother.

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