Monday, 18 March 2013

The Invisible Girls

Author: Sarah Thebarge
Type: ARC e-book
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Memoire
Publisher: FaithWords
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
First Line: "One year ago, I was riding the train from the Portland suburbs toward downtown on a sunny fall afternoon when a pair of sparkling brown eyes peeked around the corner of my book, and then quickly disappeared."

Publisher's Description: Twenty-seven-year-old Sarah Thebarge had it all - a loving boyfriend, an Ivy League degree, and a successful career - when her life was derailed by an unthinkable diagnosis: aggressive breast cancer. After surviving the grueling treatments - though just barely - Sarah moved to Portland, Oregon, to start over. There, a chance encounter with an exhausted African mother and her daughters transformed her life again.

A Somali refugee whose husband had left her, Hadhi was struggling to raise five young daughters, half a world a way from her war-torn homeland. Alone in a strange country, Hadhi and the girls were on the brink of starvation in their own home, "invisible" to their neighbors and to the world. As Sarah helped Hadhi and the girls navigate American life, her outreach to the family became a source of courage and a lifeline for herself.

Poignant, at times shattering, Sarah Thebarge's riveting memoir invites readers to engage in her story of finding connection, love, and redemption in the most unexpected places

My Thoughts: This book was a hard one for me to critique because I was engrossed in some aspects of it but didn't feel connected to the other major part of the book. 

On the one hand I found it to be a very heart-felt and honest portrayal of a woman's struggle with cancer.  Sarah's no-holds-barred take on describing her emotional as well as physical (and spiritual) impact that the cancer had on her daily life was one of my favourite parts of the book.  It felt like a very touching, honest and real account. 

I will admit that I was not under any impression that this was a Christian read when I read the book's description on NetGalley.  And while I do feel like the faith aspect gave this book another dimension other readers may not appreciate the fairly heavy dose of faith in this book.

Unfortunately, I felt the opposite when the story would flip to Sarah's relationship with the Somalian refugee, Hadhi, and her five little girls.  I realize that Sarah was grasping at a chance to connect with someone since she was so lost after her battle with cancer.  I understand that, but I honestly didn't feel the connection with that part of the story as much as her description of her cancer diagnosis and treatments.

It wasn't until I was finished reading the book and preparing to review it that I realized that it was actually not a fictitious story but a memoire of the author's personal struggles.  Maybe it's the cynic in me but I still had a hard time believing that this recent cancer survivor goes up to a complete stranger and her kids on the transit and quickly becomes so immersed in their lives.

While this book did feel very disjointed at times and was a little hit and miss for me in terms of the storyline I will take away with me a better understanding of the plight of refugees in North America.  But even more so, I will take away a great appreciation of the honest and heart-felt portrayal of the pain and heartache that is cancer and its treatment.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to FaithWords and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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