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The Invisible Girls: A Memoir

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  731 ratings  ·  182 reviews
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 he ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Jericho Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Very mixed feelings about this one; but I think it's well worth the read. This memoir was really three stories, two of them very absorbing and the third...well, for me, not so much. Briefly, a young woman who was raised in a fundamentalist religious home, grows up to far surpass what was "expected" of a woman. She earns two degrees, becomes a medical professional (with plans also in journalism) but develops breast cancer in her twenties. This part of the story was chilling, heart-breaking, inspi ...more
I have no doubt that Thebarge means well. However, this memoir is disjointed, self-serving, and completely privilege blind. It is half of the story; a minute glimpse into the plight of a family of Somalian refugees wholly through the lens of a young, American cancer survivor. We get zero time with the family outside of Thebarge's judgements of and interactions with them. Without these pieces of the story, I have a very hard time believing this project was created to benefit this Somalian family. ...more
Paul Sims
I read this post from Sarah on a Saturday, ordered the book almost immediately and had it in hand early the next week. Within 36 hours from the time I glanced at the first pages, I'd read the entire thing. I hardly ever do this –some books take me months to read.
A number of things about this book intrigued me. First is the interplay between the story of how a young woman grappled with a double mastectomy and her interaction with a Somali family lost in a culture they didn't understand.
When I read the back of the book - I was intrigued. A young woman, lost in life due to her struggle with cancer, encounters a family of immigrants on a bus. She connects with them and finds common ground with the "invisible girls." It's an uplifting journey for the family and the author, though ultimately leaves a bit to be desired.

I'm not sure what the lesson is. I know that we need to make the plight of unseen immigrants more visible. At the end of the day, I understand that there is a huge i
Sarah Thebarge’s The Invisible Girls: A Memoir is a testament to endurance, hope, and selflessness. Sarah grew up a pastor’s child in a conservative Christian family. As a young adult, her future seemed bright. A bright student, she earned a pair of Ivy League degrees in journalism and medicine. Mr. Right seemed close to proposing. That is until cancer derailed the trajectory of her life and she found herself on the brink of death. After narrowly surviving, she fled her life and found herself in ...more
A memoir. I seem to be reading more memoirs these days than I have at any other point in my life. Maybe it's because more people are writing them? Or because people are taking memoir more seriously? Or because I'm taking memoir more seriously now that I've hit the wise, old age of 26? Probably, it partially has something to do with the rise of blogs and the coveted blog-to-book-deal dream.

I think this one was a blog-to-book-deal. At least, TheBarge mentions a blog. I tried to find it, but all I
The book is poignent, funny, and heartbreaking, one of those page-turners that takes you through the emotional spectrum. Sarah weaves together two narratives: her story of being diagnosed at 27 with breast cancer and the treatment that followed, and her subsequent move from Connecticut to Oregon, where she befriended a family of Somali refugees. Over the course of several months, she formed a deep relationship with Hadhi and her five daughters, Fahri, Abdallah, Sadaka, Lelo, and Chaki. Sarah hel ...more
The Invisible Girls by Sarah Thebarge took my breath away. Sarah told of her life, her pain, and how a chance meeting of a destitute Somali mother and her five daughters, immigrants who helped to heal her soul, spirit and heart. This is a collage of her personal conflict, past and present, rooted in her strict and structured Christian background, her devastation over being diagnosed with breast cancer, having the surgery and treatment and coming to terms with her new body. What makes this book s ...more
Absolutely seeped in self-congratulation and condescension, with no small amount of Christian evangelizing. There's probably a good story in here and a worthwhile cause, but... well, the last line of the book is literally a child telling the author "... when I grow up, I want to be just like you." FIN.
Jenne Glover
The story of a girl who helps a desperate family, and in turn pulls herself out of desperation. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It takes place in my home town, which of course adds interest. I easily recommend this book!
A very touching memoir. The author befriends a family from Somalia who just arrived in Portland, and finds that she needs them as much as they need her.
A raw and honest account of what happens when life doesn't turn out like you planned and you discover God had something different in mind.

A few months ago I heard the author speak. She is a funny storyteller with vivid descriptions of unbelievable events and the book is composed of such stories.

Sarah Thebarge could have written a book about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27 and the crisis of faith that caused. She could have written a series of articles advocating for refugees and ju
Camille Dent
Jul 06, 2014 Camille Dent rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I give this book 2 stars because I appreciate that the proceeds of the book and donations will go to sending the Somali girls to college. The cause is respectable, but the actual book was close to terrible, in my opinion. The writing was so transparent and bland that I read this in less that two days, which may sound slow to some but is actually pretty quick for me.

The jumping back and forth between her cancer story and helping the Somali family felt just like that: jumping. It was almost like
While reading this book I became afraid to finish it, feeling that other books would feel narrow and unimportant following it. It is a book that contains such a sea of deep feeling and broad experience that it seems to contain everything a book and heart can hold. All this abundance of life is disproportionate with the age of its author. Sarah Thebarge was in her twenties, working on her second graduate degree at Columbia, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her feelings of abandonment by ...more
I was drawn in by the title of this book, and I must say I am still unclear who exactly Ms. Thebarge means. Is it her, because of her breast cancer diagnosis at an early age; is it the family of Somalians she befriends; or the little girls of that family that are invisible?

This was not an easy read because of all the disjointed ideas and fragmented thoughts. While this is a her account of her experience with medical issues, I found it difficult to believe/understand some of the claims. I, too, a
The Baking Bookworm
This book review, as well as many others, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (

Author: Sarah Thebarge
Type: ARC e-book
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Memoir
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."

My Thoug
Lilly Cannon
I am Strictly in a Love/Like relationship with this book, I Love to like it and i like to love it...

phewwwww, where to start?

Anyone who has had Cancer, YOU.FRICKIN.ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!! whether they survived or not, to fight something inside you, you could give up and end it quickly, but you stay and fight! and know you could lose sight of yourself because of it... I hope y'all realise how strong you are even if you can't hold a plastic cup and your eyelids are 10 kilo weights, YOU.ARE.AMAZING!

On wi

Sarah Thebarge survived grueling breast cancer, and a recurrence within a year, before moving west to Portland, Oregon, my hometown. While on the MAX light rail train, she meets a Somali immigrant and her five young daughters, and a friendship begins.

Thebarge alternates her story between getting to know and helping Hadhi and the girls and her travails enduring breast cancer treatment. She was raised in a strict evangelical religion, but went onto earn a de
Tim Newell
This was a great read for 3/4. The parallel and comparative stories of the authors struggle with breast cancer and the Somali girls' struggle to survive in the US was engaging and heart wrenching. The question of why God would cause or, at least, allow this incredible suffering is a damn good question and not one that I expected the author to really answer.

But all of a sudden she did answer it. She used the story of a child in pain from an IV needle and the mother knowing that the pain was nece
Melanie Griffin
I wanted to like this book, I really did. It was recommended to me by a dear friend who is also a writer, and the topic of immigrants and poverty and spiritual growth are close to my heart. But I can't recommend it. Either the writer is too young to be writing memoir or she is still too close to the events in the book to be able to provide much depth or perspective. I think it's the former, because the tone is self-absorbed and self-congratulatory (we are told about two dozen times that the litt ...more
Couldn't really put this book down. I know of one of these families who are almost invisible as well with eight children. Fortunately the girl helping them hasn't delt with cancer also. There has to be thousands. Apparently there is no good system in place to help them get on their feet. It's so sad what these mothers endure.
a very moving memoir of cancer, refugeeism, and faith. sarah thebarge's the invisible girls, beyond a mere tale of personal hardship, is also the story of reaching out to others and finding answers in our commitment to them. emotionally forthright, sarah's book will likely provide comfort to those enduring similar situations but also to anyone who has experienced loss and faced the inevitable questions that follow. plaintive yet touching, sorrowful yet inspiriting, the invisible girls is a glimp ...more
This book was recommended by Philip Yancey - the hippest books from 2014. I liked it very much. Someone on amazon who did not really like the book wrote: "This well-written book is made up of three intertwining themes: 1) Escaping fundamentalism, 2) Fighting breast cancer, 3) The Invisible Girls from Somalia. " Also, I would add the ups and downs of a love relationship. There are many books about people "escaping" fundamentalism Christianity. So, not new. Fighting breast cancer - lots of publici ...more
This book was the assignment for a newly formed book club I joined. The author's faith journey intrigued the book club leader most about the book and therefore, she wanted to discuss that aspect with us.

I found Sarah's faith journey interesting, especially realizing there are still families that hold such strict and legalistic views for a young girl. Despite her family of origin hangups, she managed to come out with a fairly decent view of God in her life although it seems to fall short of a hea
Miriam Downey
Read my full review here: http://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot.c...

In her memoir The Invisible Girls, Sarah Thebarge relates two intertwined stories in her life—her struggles with breast cancer and the family of little Somali girls that she has helped for several years Thebarge is also a woman of steadfast faith, which is evident in every aspect of the memoir which covers a span of about five years.

Thebarge has experienced a great deal of change in her life. Her family moved several times as she
This is a touching and inspirational story, all the more remarkable for being true. Sarah Thebarge was a 27 year old physician's assistant, raised in a strict, fundamental Christian home. She had a handsome boyfriend who shared her faith, a great job, a promising future. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer which, when it strikes young women ,tends to strike hard. In Sarah's case it was no different. A double mastectomy was followed by a recurrence, then radiation and chemo. Eventually aban ...more
Having survived her battle with breast cancer Sarah Thebarge felt she needed a change in her life. Leaving behind her pre-cancer life she moves to Portland to start over. A chance encounter on a bus changes her life in more ways than she ever could have imagined.
Hadhi, a Somali refugee trying to raise her five daughters alone, in a country where everything is so unfamiliar she is not even aware of how to turn on her oven, happens to be on the same bus that fateful afternoon. Hadhi’s youngest dau
Sarah's story about overcoming her cancer and changing her life is very interesting. The story of the Somali family is also interesting, but completely lacking depth. The author feels pretty good about herself and her friends for helping out this poor, lost family. It would have been interesting to get more perspective and to see the relationship from both sides, rather than hear about all of the wonderful, selfless things that she did for the girls (mostly, it seems, eat pizza and go to the par ...more
I read this start to finish in one afternoon. Not because it was short or easy but because it was so compelling I didn't want to put it down.
Shari Blakey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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“As my nostrils filled with the stench of burnt hair and my friends scurried to clean up the mess, I thought, 'If your hair catches on fire while you're making a wish, does that mean it isn't coming true?” 1 likes
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