Throwing Like a Girl is an ensemble novel—an arc of deeply intertwined stories about a group of women, friends since college. It’s eighteen years later and their lives have taken predictable paths. To marry Al and raise a family, Beth gave up her urban planning career. Recently separated from her husband with three young children, she falls down the stairs in her house and dislocates her shoulder. Beth turns to her best friend Ellen for rescue, and Ellen leaves her own family, traveling to maintain Beth’s household for a few days. The book opens to find Ellen, out after dark running an errand. On the streets of Bethesda, MD, she is just realizing the unusual freedom of being alone, away from the responsibilities of home, and out at night, when she encounters a trio of men who frighten her.
The incident and the subsequent interaction with one of the men in the aftermath force Ellen to admit to herself that she’s got questions about where she is in her life, questions that are, it turns out, on the minds of each of her friends for very different reasons. Adrienne, who has not told her friends her husband Nik has left her, at forty is trying to conceive a child, even though she has no idea how she’ll manage as a single parent. Mimi, Adrienne’s TA in marine biology, seeks a way to keep her family together in spite of a lasting riff with her husband. Tanya, Beth’s older half-sister, and her husband Jeremy discover they’ve been living a destructive life of financial infidelity.
The last of the original six, Andi, lives and works in Philadelphia. Her story reaches her friends across the miles, as she struggles to care for an ailing parent. Two new friends bring fresh perspective to the group—Beth’s next-door neighbor, Lori, a single lobbyist, and happily married Sheila, a dark-haired beauty who gets swept into the social moments in the book and turns out to have a story of her own.
Ellen stays at Beth’s from Monday through Saturday. Needing a respite from the tedium of childcare and housework and hoping to lift her friend’s spirits, Ellen plans a girls only dinner party. After a week of work and challenges, a surprise kiss, an even more surprised electrician, a beer-soaked bartender, a spectacular fire, and finding the meaning of life at a car wash, the women come together to blow off steam. As they enjoy wine and chocolate cake, the conversation turns to secrets, doubts and fears and their common questions emerge. Throwing Like a Girl aims to address the inner strength women have to seek new opportunities, staying vibrant and creative in spite of the dirty gray dishwater that daily wrinkles their skin.