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The Invisible Girls: A Memoir

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Overview

Twenty-seven-year-old Sarah Thebarge had it all: a Yale graduate working on her second Ivy League degree and browsing engagement rings with her boyfriend, her future seemed assured. Then the unthinkable happened: Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. Eighteen months of grueling treatments destroyed her body, her relationship, and her faith, leaving her feeling unrecognizable to herself, and invisible to others.

Starting over in Portland, Oregon, a chance encounter on the train...

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The Invisible Girls: A Memoir

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Overview

Twenty-seven-year-old Sarah Thebarge had it all: a Yale graduate working on her second Ivy League degree and browsing engagement rings with her boyfriend, her future seemed assured. Then the unthinkable happened: Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. Eighteen months of grueling treatments destroyed her body, her relationship, and her faith, leaving her feeling unrecognizable to herself, and invisible to others.

Starting over in Portland, Oregon, a chance encounter on the train with an exhausted African mother and her daughters changes everything. 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 ultimately challenges each one of us to step out of our comfort zone and see even the most marginalized "invisible" people for who they really are.

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  • The Invisible Girls
    The Invisible Girls  

Editorial Reviews

author of The Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder - Karen Spears Zacharias
"Intertwining her own excruciating story of loss and rejection with the stirring story of a family of Somali refugees, The Invisible Girls is a testament to unwavering tenacity, resilient faith, and ineffable grace."
author of Angry Conversations With God - Susan E. Isaacs
"I picked up Invisible Girls and could not put it down. Thebarge fixes a loving eye on a family of Somali girls and an unflinching eye on her harrowing ordeal with breast cancer. No one can lead you out of a desert better than the one who's already been there. Beautiful writer, beautiful book, beautiful soul."
Randy Alcorn
"Honest, enlightening, heart-touching and, at just the right times, funny. Sarah's expertly-crafted sentences sing and sometimes sting, flowing smoothly, then suddenly jumping off the page. The interweaving of her story with that of a Somali mother and daughters is masterful. This isn't the American dream. It's a vibrant and authentic story of loss, disenchantment, discovery, and a reawakening of faith and hope."
Rick McKinley
"A raw, honest and powerful witness of the dangerous mercy of God...Her story will humble you and inspire you."
Randy Alcorn
"Honest, enlightening, heart-touching and, at just the right times, funny. Sarah's expertly-crafted sentences sing and sometimes sting, flowing smoothly, then suddenly jumping off the page. The interweaving of her story with that of a Somali mother and daughters is masterful. This isn't the American dream. It's a vibrant and authentic story of loss, disenchantment, discovery, and a reawakening of faith and hope."
Rick McKinley
"A raw, honest and powerful witness of the dangerous mercy of God...Her story will humble you and inspire you."
author of Angry Conversations With God Susan E. Isaacs
"I picked up Invisible Girls and could not put it down. Thebarge fixes a loving eye on a family of Somali girls and an unflinching eye on her harrowing ordeal with breast cancer. No one can lead you out of a desert better than the one who's already been there. Beautiful writer, beautiful book, beautiful soul."
author of The Silence of Mockingbirds: The Mem Karen Spears Zacharias
"Intertwining her own excruciating story of loss and rejection with the stirring story of a family of Somali refugees, The Invisible Girls is a testament to unwavering tenacity, resilient faith, and ineffable grace."
author of Storyline and Blue Like Jazz Don Miller
"Wonderfully written, the book will have you staring through it, into a world that seems to have been made new. I am grateful there are new writers in the world like Sarah Thebarge. You'll get caught up in the strength of her kindness and the girls she describes even as we gain our focus to slowly see them, and so many others, for ourselves."
World Magazine
"This memoir combines good writing, dramatic events, and a thoughtful response to them."
From the Publisher
"This memoir combines good writing, dramatic events, and a thoughtful response to them."—World Magazine

"Wonderfully written, the book will have you staring through it, into a world that seems to have been made new. I am grateful there are new writers in the world like Sarah Thebarge. You'll get caught up in the strength of her kindness and the girls she describes even as we gain our focus to slowly see them, and so many others, for ourselves."—Don Miller, author of Storyline and Blue Like Jazz

"Intertwining her own excruciating story of loss and rejection with the stirring story of a family of Somali refugees, The Invisible Girls is a testament to unwavering tenacity, resilient faith, and ineffable grace."—Karen Spears Zacharias, author of The Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder

"Honest, enlightening, heart-touching and, at just the right times, funny. Sarah's expertly-crafted sentences sing and sometimes sting, flowing smoothly, then suddenly jumping off the page. The interweaving of her story with that of a Somali mother and daughters is masterful. This isn't the American dream. It's a vibrant and authentic story of loss, disenchantment, discovery, and a reawakening of faith and hope."—Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven and If God is Good

"I picked up Invisible Girls and could not put it down. Thebarge fixes a loving eye on a family of Somali girls and an unflinching eye on her harrowing ordeal with breast cancer. No one can lead you out of a desert better than the one who's already been there. Beautiful writer, beautiful book, beautiful soul."—Susan E. Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations With God

"A raw, honest and powerful witness of the dangerous mercy of God...Her story will humble you and inspire you."—Rick McKinley, Lead Pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland, OR and author of A Kingdom Called Desire and This Beautiful Mess

author of Half the Church Carolyn Custis James
"[Sarah Thebarge's] story is a double gift because her raw, honest wrestlings with God free us to be honest with God ourselves, and because her generous passion for The Invisible Girls reveals the healing that comes from pouring our broken selves out for others. Sarah's writing reminds me of Lauren Winner. I loved this wonderful book!"
VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Caitlin Augusta
Thebarge relates the heartbreaking diagnosis and treatments for breast cancer she experienced in her twenties while at Yale University. After several surgeries, a cancer recurrence, and a broken engagement, Thebarge left Connecticut for Portland, Oregon, and a new start. There she started a casual conversation with a Somali mother, Hadhi, and her five girls on the train. That contact became a life-changing relationship as Sarah doggedly pursued resources and opportunities for the family. All proceeds of the book will support the girls’ college funds. This memoir holds an immediate, heartbreaking quality that makes it a page-turner despite a few structural problems. Thebarge emerges as a woman strong enough to realize her worth yet vulnerable enough to be torn down by despair and the negative opinions of others. Her desire for social justice and search for faith in the microcosm of this one Somali family is laudable, yet Herculean. The difficulties of immigrant life emerge clearly in her descriptions. Time sequences may be challenging for readers. Thebarge shares episodes from her childhood, from Connecticut, and from Oregon, but their order is not always clear, and her transitions could be stronger. Like other memoirs, the story seems incomplete: Thebarge and Hadhi search for meaning, but Thebarge’s abrupt conclusion offers none. Teen readers who like stories of triumph over adversity or social justice may make a heartfelt connection despite the open ending. Reviewer: Caitlin Augusta; Ages 15 to Adult.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455523917
  • Publisher: FaithWords
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 260
  • Sales rank: 571,944
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Thebarge is a speaker and author who grew up as a pastor's kid in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She earned a masters degree in Medical Science from Yale School of Medicine and was studying Journalism at Columbia University when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. Sarah's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, BurnsideWriters.com, Relevant, TheOoze.com, Raysd, and Just Between Us. Her writing for Christianity Today's This Is Our City project won first prize from the National Evangelical Press Association. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 10, 2014

    This book was truly fantastic. I was surprised at how hard it wa

    This book was truly fantastic. I was surprised at how hard it was to set it down... which I didn't do for very long. I love the short chapters and thew ay Sarah weaves the stories together. My eyes were opened to the plight of refugees in America... to the plight of breast-cancer patience in general., and the ways those two stories share much in common. I loved the raw and honest approach to Sarah's writing as she shared, not just the details of her life story, but crisis of faith along the way. This is a must-read. I keep finding myself recommending it to people. And knowing that the proceeds go to helping the Somali family helps me feel like I can contribute in some way. This book is worth every penny. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2014

    Such an amazing book!

    I could not put this book down. I pray the proceeds will surpass all needs and bless the Invisible Girls beyond education. GOD BLESS YOU SAHARA(Sarah). I look forward to hearing you speak at my church.

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  • Posted June 6, 2014

    Good Book

    Had a hard time putting this book down. The combination of the Somali family's struggles and Sarah's personal struggles kept me reading.

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  • Posted July 14, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Heartbreaking and Inspiring

    When you find a book that blends two stories together smoothly, you’ve found a good book. When you find a book that is heart-wrenching and inspiring, you’ve found a wonderful story. Author Sarah Thebarge has created a wonderfully, good book in THE INVISIBLE GIRLS: A Memoir. Narrator Kirsten Potter does an excellent job bringing the story to life. Her vocalization of the emotions is an added delight to this mesmerizing story the author tells. At 27, Sarah Thebarge’s life was great - she had an Ivy League degree, was on the way to having the successful career she dreamed of and had gotten engaged to her handsome boyfriend. Then her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. After surgery, months of grueling treatments and a number of losses in her life, Sarah decided to start over across the country in Portland, Oregon. Once there, Sarah began trying to rebuild her life. A chance encounter on a train turned her world upside down again. This time, it was in a good way. She came to know and care about a young Somali refugee, Hadhi, and her five young daughters. Hadhi’s abusive husband had left them and they were on the brink of starvation as they were ‘invisible’ to their neighbors and the new world around them. As Sarah began to help Hadhi and the girls adjust to their new country, the family helped Sarah adjust to her new life after cancer. I was touched first by how the author was able to hold onto her faith despite times of despair, anger and doubt. I was inspired by how she overcame all that she did and was able to give so much despite her own losses. Second, I was amazed at the author’s care and concern for Hadhi and the girls. She was there when they needed someone the most and she continues to help them. Portions of the proceeds from THE INVISIBLE GIRLS goes toward the girls’ college education. THE INVISIBLE GIRLS is a beautiful and poignant story that will tug at your heartstrings one minute and make you laugh the next. It’s a story that will have you re-examining things about your own life. This is a raw emotional story of not only surviving, but learning to live. The end of the audio also includes an interview with author Sarah Thebarge that is both very touching and enlightening. FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

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  • Posted April 18, 2013

    Sarah Thebarge has penned an amazing book about life: a life tha

    Sarah Thebarge has penned an amazing book about life: a life that travels from everything to nothing and crawls its way back again; life like a rheostat controlled lamp, its light slowly pushing back the darkness; life like a young dandelion daringly breaking through and beautifying a crack in a sidewalk; life that risks love through heartbreak, life from death, family from loneliness. Like most good stories, its ending remains uncertain and unwritten, but it invites you to follow it even after you close the back cover. Do yourself a favor and create space in your day, your reading schedule, and your heart for a memoir that simply asks that you allow the stories and people around you who are so often invisible to become visible.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 7, 2013

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    Posted August 29, 2013

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    Posted July 5, 2013

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    Posted November 28, 2014

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