“If you remember nothing else from my journey, please remember this,” Sandomir writes early in this wrenching yet hopeful account of surviving abuse and finding the courage to escape and to share her story. “It’s okay to ask for help,” she continues. “It’s okay to tell your story, and it’s okay to feel all the things you don’t want to feel.” In that spirit of outreach, empathy, and leading by example, Sandomir discloses the intimate, harrowing story a childhood marked by the betrayal and abandonment by the adults around her; years of abuse endured as a young woman; and the breakthroughs and triggering moments that brought her, in adult life, to face the past.
Sandomir recounts the “torturous” experience of dredging up old memories in the therapy sessions her new husband urged her to try, plunging herself into depression and stirring up intrusive thoughts as she learned to develop healthy coping strategies. Her memories of violence stretch back to the age of three, and while she’s frank about what happened she describes unspeakable acts with sensitivity, with an emphasis on their impact upon her development, relationships, self-worth, and a tendency toward self-sabotage. The line she draws connecting the trauma of childhood abuse to a pattern of abusive relationships in later life is stark and persuasive.
Frank and clear-eyed, The Invisible Girl finds Sandomir taking account of a life in which the suppressed memories of abuse shaped her choices in ways she hasn’t always understood, where a “once-loving relationship” could become “a full-blown psychological ordeal” she didn’t accept she could leave. (Not being able to leave becomes a frightening theme, especially when she describes being held at a hospital against her will.) What lingers after reading is the strength it takes to heal, how Sandomir eventually accepts that “unburdening” herself of her past is “the only path to laughter, self-love, awareness, and happiness.” Her book stands as a demonstration of how to heal.
Takeaway: A frank, encouraging memoir of healing after enduring cycles of abuse.
Great for fans of: Christy P. Kane’s Fractured Souls and Splintered Memories: Unlocking the "Boxes" of Trauma, Jennifer Debellis’s Warrior Sister: Cut Yourself Free From Your Assault.
Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A- Marketing copy: A