Debut novelist Mirabella delivers a powerful blow with her coming-of-age story set in the world of women’s professional wrestling in 1953.
Leonie Putzkammer is a 17-year-old who's primed to reinvent herself. Too tall and unaware of her striking looks, she decides to leave Philadelphia and her single father behind to take a chance on becoming a professional wrestler. After meeting with a prominent wrestling promoter, she enrolls in the Pospisil School for Lady Grappling. Though Leonie hopes this change will push her to become a new person, she doesn’t realize that the creation will be out of her control. After signing her contract, she learns the truth about wrestling: "Be fake." The rivalries, the personas, the champions have all been scripted, and now that she is a part of that world, she is charged with protecting that secret. Reborn as Gwen Davies, she must embody her character, who will be cast as a heel, or villain, and pair up with the notorious Screaming Mimi Hollander. But being booed and harassed wasn’t part of the new life Leonie had envisioned for herself, so with some manipulation, she severs the partnership to become the face—the hero—she had longed to become. Told in a second-person direct address to her former self, the now elderly (and reinvented yet again) Leigh Kramer tells her story of rising to fame in the world of women’s wrestling only to lose herself completely. The narration occasionally stumbles in this unique style, as the voice blessed with hindsight has partitioned all of the different women she has been as separate entities. The novel is bursting with colorful characters who are far more complex than the heels and faces they portray in the theater of professional wrestling.
A powerful tale of a person’s capacity for reinvention, without the fakery.