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Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine
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Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  119 reviews
An exploration of women navigating serious health issues at an age where they're expected to be healthy, dating, having careers and children.

Miriam's doctor didn't believe she had breast cancer. She did.

Sophie navigates being the only black scientist in her lab while studying the very disease, HIV, that she hides from her coworkers.

For Victoria, coming out as a transgender
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Beacon Press
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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Start your review of Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-justice
"Research shows that the way other people view and respond to women with chronic illness has an important effect on their construction of self-identity."
As a young woman living with a chronic illness, I jumped at the chance to read this. Living with cystic fibrosis has had an enormous impact on every aspect of my life, both in the tangible sense and in the way I view my life and plan for the future. It can be incredibly isolating to live a life that feels so different from your peers, and I'm a
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Invisible covered many of the things that women with various illnesses experience, mostly relating to social stigma in the personal life, work life, and within the medical community.

As a chronically ill person, I found some of this book to be relatable, but I was more than a little disappointed in the fact that there was a significant concentration on cancer and various acute onset illnesses, as opposed to those invisible or chronic illnesses that remain lifelong. The experiences are different,
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I am very conflicted about this book, but none of that confliction has to do with the quality of the work. Both the research and the care put into the book are fantastic, I was highlighting quotes constantly because I didn't want to forgot how eloquently she put ideas I've had tumble around my head for ages.

However, as the author mentioned in her author's note, this book cannot cover ever illness/disability/etc. I have four different chronic illnesses, none of which are life threatening, they ar
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I feel a little badly that I didn’t get more out of this book, because the author comes across as a really interesting and special person. However, as a young woman with chronic illness, I found reading a repetitive litany of all the horrible ways young women with illness are treated to be depressing, not helpful. For me, the book lacked a point. The only one I can think of is to hope that non-sick/able-bodied people read this book and gain some insight into ways they shouldn’t treat young women ...more
When I began reading "Invisible," knowing little more about it than the title, I had certain expectations. I expected to be let down. As a trans and Queer disabled person, I am used to reading books about healthcare that do not include people like me and my friends. I figured I would get something out of it nonetheless and gave it a go. This is the first book of this kind that I have read- that was not specifically about LGBTQ populations- that didn't let me down. Hirsch worked very hard to incl ...more
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
What an incredibly important topic. I am extremely glad that this was published and exists in the world. However, this book lacked the structure, arc, and overall cohesion I desired that would also serve to lend the topic a driving aim. I got to the end and felt like I read a long narrative list of terrible things that happen to young women in the healthcare system. I have a suspicion that the majority of people who snatch up this book will be young women with health issues and I felt like it wa ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Part memoir, part anecdote, and part research, Invisible does an amazing job looking at women society deems "too young" or "too pretty" to be sick.

The good:

- The book is own voices for both health issues and being queer, which is awesome in its own right, and her conscientious efforts mean...

- may be the most intersectional book I've ever read. Lent Hirsch mentions how each woman interviewed identifies and the range across race, sexuality, religion, and gender is amazing. She goes into h
Kira Brighton
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I went into this expecting to find the stories of people like me. I got that, but I also learned that my life is even crappier than I already thought it was and I will never find love. So that's fun!

In all seriousness, while this book may not be the most uplifting read for young women with health issues, I think it'll be educational for the rest of the population. It's a solidly written book, and I'm really glad that it exists.

Now: Alternate Chapter Titles, by Me!

1) Men Are Trash (Except Simon)
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Author Michelle Hirsch writes with authority on the phenomenon of women with severe health issues who downplay the seriousness of their diseases. She provides readers with examples of women who mask or soften how they are really feeling, all in order to either keep their current jobs or to be taken seriously. A timely topic, and a book that women of all ages should put on their to-be read list.
I read a review copy and was not compensated.
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
**3.5 stars**

I have numerous health struggles, so this book was extremely relatable. I found myself vigorously nodding and furiously highlighting as I read. Other reviewers have commented that they felt this book didn't give much hope and was just "a long list of shitty things that happened to them" but for me it was validating to hear others' similar experiences and made me feel I wasn't alone.

I also loved how inclusive this was. The author really made an effort to include experiences across a
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

There was a lot of content in this book that really spoke to me. I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis a few years ago just after turning 30, which left me with mobility issues, a compromised immune system, and a whole host of other medical issues that have severely affected my everyday life. I don't consider myself "disabled," but I have had to adjust to life with a number of disabilities.

I especially connected with the chapter about career c
Bogi Takács
This book took me over a month to finish, but it is due back to the library, so.

Invisible is a thorough nonfiction treatment of the topic described in its subtitle, and it mostly involves terrible ableism. So both rather dispiriting to read and a typical found-myself-nodding kind of book.

It was nice to see the author explicitly trying to make the book as intersectional and trans-inclusive as possible. But of course this added even more depictions of discrimination. Be prepared. (I wish there was
Bethany Michelle  Planton
Invisible shows through interviews, studies, and the author's personal story that young women with series health issues have to navigate a world that is biased against them. I learned a lot from this book. It is a good conversation starter, but it cannot be the end.
Tory Cross
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, to-review
I loved everything about this. What an exquisite work on the realities of being young and a woman and sick.

It is incredible to feel seen.
Molly T
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Invisible combines memoir, ethnography, and social science research to address some of the unique challenges faced by young women with serious health issues. Lent Hirsch uses her own experience with multiple illnesses to open a dialogue about how many of the ‘typical’ aspects of being a young woman, such as establishing and maintaining social relationships, navigating the workplace, and planning for a future, are often complicated or magnified by concurrent life-altering health issues.

Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine" - What a mouthful of a title, but it also captures quite well what Michele Lent Hirsch tries to tackle in 230 pages. She looks at a quite specific demographic: women, who have mostly "invisible" illnesses and (for the most part) only fell ill as (young) adults. The book is divided into six parts looking into (romantic and sexual) relationships, the workplace, friendships/ soci ...more
Li Sian
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learnt a LOT from this book about how young women are affected by serious/chronic illnesses and navigate not just physical constraints, but social ones - in various aspects of their lives. Really well-thought out, researched, and nuanced book. Hirsch made an effort to interview young women and non-binary people from different walks of life, and it's clear that people who are, say, trans or POC generally have an even harder time than a cis white woman would. I also appreciated Hirsch's effort t ...more
Joy Messinger
[5 stars] Part memoir and part scientific review, Invisible delves into the biases, prejudice, stigma, and shame surrounding chronic illness, mental health, and disability for young cisgender and transgender women. As I read the chronicle of other people's experiences seeking care in Western medical settings, I found myself seeing the same words that doctors had repeated to me throughout the past five years as doctors have struggled to diagnose my constellations of orthopedic, neurological, rhem ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an advance copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

This book was well-written, and provides insight from a broad spectrum of women with various health histories on their personal experiences with serious illnesses. I thought the writing was smart and the author shared her own experiences with dealing with health issues.

This book recognizes the challenges that women face in their personal and professional lives due to serious illnesses, many of which are not visible and so theref
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
This was SO GOOD, and it should be required reading for everyone. The best read of 2018 for me so far. Do not judge a book by its weirdly juvenile cover (am I the only one who really hated this jacket design?).
Oh I wish I had had this research handy when I was dealing with disability at 21. From broken friendships, to pushing physical limitations and regretting it later, to feeling on the outside because only much older women could offer true emotional support, to many other things, so many mome
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was perfect for me right now. It was so validating to see my experience echoed in that of others. But that’s not all! This book also opened my eyes to experiences unlike my own in a way that stretched my mind and my compassion.

If you are a woman with health issues (large or small) read this book.

If you know a woman with health issues read this book.

If you are a healthcare provider or researcher read this book.

If you are a feminist read this book.

If you are interested in the inters
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The most glaring flaw of Invisible is its failure to realize how fat discrimination impacts the healthcare and societal treatment of young women. In the final chapter, fat is euphemistically referred to but ultimately packaged under societal pressure to conform to beauty standards. The author makes no move to analyze how her thinness has afforded her and her interviewees better treatment than if they'd been larger: how fat is often pathologized as its own "chronic illness" and used as an excuse ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was very, very good. I identified with the chapters on work, friendships, and trying to figure out if a small human fits into my unpredictable life the most. As others have said, Invisible doesn’t discuss long-term chronic illnesses as much, and I wish it did- having cystic fibrosis hasn’t shifted my perspective. It’s formed it. I’ve never known life without it, and so I don’t miss or grieve something I used to know.

I read the line “Being sick involves a recognition of the worlds of pain a
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, illness
I related to so much in this and want to shove it into the hands of everyone I meet. Being young and sick and a woman has so many challenges people don't even consider. This book broke it down by interviewing women (cis and trans) of all backgrounds and made me feel SEEN and connected to others out there dealing with the same shit.

I also appreciated how inclusive this is. It talks about the specific challenges women with illnesses face if they are queer or poor or part of any other marginalized
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. I can fully relate to this book as I am one of these young women. I am a month away from my 34th birthday and have been dealing with cerebral palsy and its various effects all my life. It's definitely been a struggle. I am relieved to see that I am not alone because it has been very lonely at times when people don't take your issues as seriously as they should be taken. A worthwhile read.
I jumped at a chance to read this as soon as I heard about it. It was a solid read. The author highlights a lot of good points and her research is thorough. The book is incredibly inter-sectional and covers a wide range of topics that people with serious health issues face, from dating, work, friendships, healthcare, children and more. Hirsch does an excellent job of weaving her own experiences in with her interviewees and arguing her points. I highly recommend this book.
The most intersectional book I’ve ever read. The only thing I can say is that the title speaks for itself and this should be required reading for everyone. (Perhaps it needed more summation or conclusion to tie it all together at the end. Or not, bc maybe we deserve to finish this and sit there with our thoughts.)
Lindsey Myers
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a woman in her 30s, with serious health issues and disorders, I am SO THANKFUL for the time, energy and effort the author put into this encouraging, interesting and enlightening book. It is easy to feel alone at times with the daily task of managing my body and mind, and the quirks and issues they have, but the stories in this title helped ease that loneliness and give me hope.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great exploration of what it means to be a young woman with a serious disease and how even the medical and research science community ignores female bodies because they're "too complicated"--even when a given drug behaves differently in our hormone riddled bodies
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, infuriating, and validating. Great to read an author with MCAS.
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Michele Lent Hirsch is a writer and editor who specializes in science, gender, and health. Her nonfiction has appeared in or on the Atlantic, the Guardian, Smithsonian, Psychology Today, and Consumer Reports, among other outlets, and her poetry in the Bellevue Literary Review and Rattle. She has taught journalism at Manhattanville College, conducted research as a writer-in-residence at the New Yor ...more

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