That's right, ladies and gentlemen! I actually read a second book for grown-ups! When a children's librarian finds time to read, we are generally reading children's books. On the rare occasion I'm not reading picture books and juvenile fiction, I'm usually reading young adult, because I got hooked on it when I worked at West Valley High School.
As I mentioned before, one of my goals this summer was to read some grown-up books, and also to read at least one biography. I can't decide whether I should allow one book to fulfill two goals, because I have now read TWO grown-up biographies. Should I count them as two grown-up books, one grown-up book and one biography, or should I cheat and count one book in two categories? It's a dilemma. What say you, fair readers?
"Invisible Girls," by Sarah Thebarge, caught my eye at the Fred Meyer West checkstand. Despite my frequent avowals to not buy any more books until I read the ones I have, I threw it on the belt with my groceries. I mean, it had a 25% off sticker on the cover; what could I do? It sat on my bedside table for several months before I found the time to read it. I read it once myself, and am currently reading it out loud to my husband, which is a habit we have when I read a book I know he'd like.
This is a touching and inspirational story, all the more remarkable for being true. Sarah Thebarge was raised in a strict, fundamental Christian home. She wore only baggy thrift store dresses and was never allowed to cut her hair. When she was four years old, her grandfather declared that she was "too pretty," and would end up being a loose woman if she was not raised with a particularly heavy hand. Despite these low expectations, she became the first woman in her family to go to college, then to graduate school. By age 27, she was a physician's assistant seeking a second degree in writing. She had a handsome boyfriend who shared her Christian faith, a great job, and a promising future. Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer which, when it strikes younger woman, is particularly aggressive. Sarah's case was no exception. A double mastectomy was followed by a recurrence, and than radiation and chemo. With her family living far away, she was abandoned by her friends, and eventually even her boyfriend. She decided to move to the opposite coast and start over.
She ends up in Portland, Oregon, and not long after her arrival, has a chance encounter on the train with a family of Somalian refugees. She recognizes their poverty and barely concealed desperation and, on a whim, gets their address and decides to follow up with them. She finds that Hadhi is single-handedly raising five girls under the age of ten with virtually no resources. Her first visit to the apartment finds them living with no furniture, no extra clothing, no toilet paper or cleaning supplies, and the five girls sharing a meal of pop and moldy bread dipped in ketchup. She has to take action, and what follows is a story of grace, redemption, and healing. In the course of helping Hadhi navigate the intricacies of a new culture, Sarah realizes that she too grew up as a second class citizen within her own small, sub-culture. There had been no expectation from her family that she would do anything but marry, attend church, and produce children to do the same. She too had been invisible, just like Hadhi and her girls. In the course of helping them, she find solace from her own emotional and spiritual scars.
As a side note, all proceeds from the sale of this book go to a college fund for the girls, so if you want to read it, try to buy it new. There is also an address in the back of the book to send additional donations if you are so inclined.
Currently I am reading two books which will make it in to my blog later. To fulfill my non-fiction goal, I am reading "The Greatest Generation," by Tom Brokaw. This book has sat on my shelf for years, but because Jack and I recently watched Band of Brothers, World War II has been much on my mind. I am also reading "The Fourth Stall," a piece of juvenile fiction by Chris Rylander. I plan to race through that one so I can start another book I bought just yesterday. Yes, you read that right. I bought another book. If you are one of those friends who knows how much I love the Divergent Series, you will understand, because the book is "Four," a series of short stories told from Tobias' point of view. I'll be reviewing that one soon, so stay tuned!