*This post contains affiliate links. I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Jericho Books. I received a product sample to facilitate my review but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine.
I have to be entirely honest here: I usually have absolutely no problem telling you exactly what I think about a book or product I’ve been sent to review. Typically, because I tend to be a very opinionated person, it just comes naturally. So when I tell you that it took me a good, solid month to come up with words to describe this book… you should understand that it means it was something out of the ordinary.
I remember a quiet storm of media attention about The Invisible Girls a little while back. A reference here, a quote there… it just popped up in the most unexpected places. When I first got the book, I felt a little wary of reading it. The author is stunningly blunt in her writing; at times you feel like you’re reading an email from a dear friend, and at others you are overhearing a story from someone who you just don’t know what to think about. Sarah Thebarge writes with astounding candor about her life leading up to her diagnosis of breast cancer. After the first few chapters, you find yourself easing into this easy, although never completely comfortable, memoir. She guides you through her life and emotions as a girl being raised in a patriarchal baptist family; the pressure she felt just for being a girl and the shame she battled with for wanting more out of her life than domestic bliss. Throughout her diagnosis, treatment, remission, re-occurrence, and remission of breast cancer, she tears your heartstrings out word by word as she writes with striking honesty. Ms. Thebarge doesn’t seem to pull many strings- she shares her emotions and thoughts through the happiest day and the most excruciating days of her life so far. And yet, as she recounts these difficult years in her life, she intertwines a story of hope and love with her ‘invisible girls’.
Usually, review books take me a little while to read. Not that I don’t enjoy them, but I usually am in the middle of reading something for pleasure whenever I receive them, so it takes me a week or two to get through them. This book was entirely different.
I sat right there at that table at a local park for several hours one afternoon and devoured this book. I just couldn’t put it down! And then I found myself, over the next few days, picking it back up and reading portions again and again, to relive the moment, the story, the emotion that seeps through the pages in incredible detail. It should be heartbreaking, and it is. It should be encouraging, and it is. When Ms. Thebarge writes about her college professor dealing with cancer on her own, I had tears streaming down my face. When she spoke of the laughter and joy she experienced with her Invisible Girls, I couldn’t help but grinning along with her.
But, that is not the point of the story. The point is hope. Joy. And peace, both with herself and with her situation in life. Peace with God. Because throughout these pages, and during this season of her life, Sarah Thebarge writes about how she found reasons to get up and continue on every day, even when she is counting her time in minutes rather than days. She writes about her faith- her struggles and doubts and how she found God again in the midst of her troubles. She finds purpose and love with her Invisible Girls, a family of Somali refugees consisting of a single mother and her daughters with whom Ms. Thebarge has a chance encounter with one afternoon that would change her life.
So what is my opinion on The Invisible Girls? Everyone should read this book. We spend so much time just letting the smallest things that make the most difference slip us by. In The Invisible Girls: A Memoir, Sarah Thebarge brings all that uncontentedness, all the greed and frustration with day to day life to a screeching halt and demands that you take notice. It is more than just a well-written memoir with an awesome purpose (although it is both of those: the author is saving the proceeds to help fund the Invisible Girls’ college funds), it is an elegant portrait of the human spirit, of faith, and of the power of love.