Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Jericho Books. I received a product sample to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Have you ever felt invisible? I know that I have on more than one occasion. At Ralph Ellison put it, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Sarah Thebarge shares her emotional and difficult journey of surviving breast cancer and an encounter with a family of Somali refugees, Hadhi and her five daughters, that changed her life in the memoir The Invisible Girls. She shows us that while even in our darkest hours, some people would rather pretend we’re invisible to avoid dealing with our situations, we’re not alone. Sometimes, the first step to becoming visible is reach out ourselves.
When I heard first heard about Sarah Thebarge and how she was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age twenty-seven (my current age), I knew that I had to read her book. Breast cancer is a disease that has greatly affected both sides of my family. My paternal grandmother and great aunt died of breast cancer, I’ve had at least six family members defeat breast cancer and currently I have two cousins who are still battling breast cancer. So, I express my passion for wanting to cure this dreadful disease through donating and supporting anything breast cancer related.
However, once I started reading Sarah’s memoir, I quickly learned that her book wasn’t just about her battle with breast cancer, but about how her breast cancer diagnosis had made her invisible, her battle to overcome that invisibility and how a group of fellow invisible girls changed her life along the way. Sarah met Hadhi and two of her girls while the riding the train and she had no clue what she was getting herself into. What started off as just a friendly and Christian gesture quickly blossomed into a relationship that transcended friendship
You see, Hadhi and her five girls had moved to America to escape the violence of Somalia thinking they’d have a better and successful life. And while their lives here was a slight step up from what they had experienced back in Africa, they were invisible and alone in our society. I think that on some level Sarah connected with the feeling of being alone and feeling like nobody was seeing the pain, the struggle or silent cries for help. Sarah battle breast cancer more than once and throughout her battles she lost a lot. She was and felt alone with her friends on a different coast, her family hundreds of miles away and the boyfriend and church family she thought she could depend on ended up flaking on her when she needed them the most.
Throughout the book, Sarah tries to figure out why God is allowing this to happen her. As a Christian, I have definitely had moments where I felt like God was punishing me for something in my past. It’s not easy going through hard times without any answers as to why. But you have to stop focusing on the why and instead focus on the process of getting through…of using your faith to survive. Asking God for help instead of a reason. In fact one of my favorite parts of the book is when Sarah is in the hospital and she’s trying to walk to the nurses station. She writes “Help, God,” I whispered with every step. “Help, God. Help God. Help.”
If you haven’t read The Invisible Girls, I definitely recommend that you pick up a copy. This book is amazing, heartwarming, funny at times and beautifully written. I’ll warn you now that you might want to keep a box of tissues handy because Sarah and Hadhi’s stories will move you to tears in some parts. This is hands down one of the BEST books I’ve had the pleasure to read this year! And if you want to learn more about Sarah Thebarge, Hadhi and the girls check out her site here.