Invisible No Longer (A Book Review)

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Jericho Books. I received a product sample to facilitate my review.”

My morning yesterday started with two “first world” traffic situations within a half hour of leaving the house. There was the motorist who tailgated me even though I was already going 50 in a 45 mile an hour zone. Then there was the motorist who threw up his hands at me because we were in a relatively unmarked lot and I was coming toward him. I was tempted to tweet my frustrations away.


In her book, The Invisible Girls, Sarah Thebarge introduces us to two decidedly UN-First World problems and leaves the reader appalled, empathetic, hopeful, and dumbfounded. This was the first book I have been unable to put down in a long time.

In “The Invisible Girls,” Sarah encounters Hadhi, a Somali refugee with five young daughters, who had been abandoned by her husband after the family had arrived in the United States (they had fled the political instability of Somalia and spent time in a Kenyan refugee camp before an aid organization helped them fly to the United States where, according to Thebarge, “they were allowed to stay as political refugees.”)

The circumstances that brought Sarah to be on a train in Portland, Oregon, where she ended up making eye contact with a young Somali child (Hadhi’s daughter) with a heart for play despite her difficult situation, were not simple. She had battled breast cancer at the age of 27 and after being broken up with by her boyfriend and simply needing a new start, had decided Portland sounded good.

The two points about this book that stuck out to me (and there were many more than two) were:

  • How utterly daunting it must be to be plopped down in the United States after a lifetime in a culture such as the Somali one. Hadhi’s struggles reminded me of Ping Fu’s story about her entry into the United States when she was ordered to leave China.
  • I especially related to and loved Sarah’s observation that the Somali family’s processing of things was very complex (whereas their inability to communicate in English fed the assumption that they were “simple). Sarah writes, “It was easy for me to make the atrocious assumption that because they couldn’t articulate sadness, helplessness, discouragement, or other emotions in English, they must not feel them.”

The only disappointment of this book for me is the inability to know more, to “fix it,” to see the girls and their mother flourish and to know Sarah’s health stabilized. For the girls, it is possible to contribute to their trust fund by utilizing the information in this link: (But seriously — I have to admit I want (perhaps selfishly) to know more — did they assimilate into their American schools? Are they still crazy about Justin Bieber? Did their father end up supporting them emotionally and/or financially once he came back into their lives? Not sure if those questions will ever be answered but I like the idea of a whole community of readers wanting them to have the means to go to college).

And as for Sarah, I was almost gaping-mouthed at her descriptions of her medical experiences, and at the disappointments her support network handed her (especially the ex-boyfriend). I have to hand it to her for the way she continues to share about her experiences with breast cancer at such a young age (such as this post about The 31 Ways To Help A Friend With Breast Cancer). I want to take her out to coffee and do some of those 31 things.

In closing, hopefully I’ve conveyed my enthusiasm for the book. When Sarah was being interviewed at Yale for their Physician Assistant program, the admissions committee asked her why they should let her into the program. She responded “Because I’m going to change the world. And I’m giving you the chance to say, ‘We knew her when.'”

I think she’s well on her way to making that change. At least one mom and five little girls think so.

cropped somali women



Sarah’s Website:

To Purchase the book on Amazon, click here.

Sarah can be found on Twitter by clicking here.

Sarah can be found on Facebook by clicking here.

Information about the issues facing girls and women in Somalia can be found here.


Add Your Bone To The Million

There’s no better way to learn about something you only superficially understand than to volunteer to write about it! I had seen my friend Jane McPherson’s Facebook postings about the “One Million Bones Project” many times, enough to know that it was about genocide and that it involved literally making “bones.” Beyond that, I didn’t fully understand if it was about raising awareness, fundraising, taking action on an issue of international significance, or a combination of the three.

Fortunately, two representatives of Florida State University’s branch of the “One Million Bones Project” came to Journeys in Yoga today to participate in the Journeys donation class that benefits the project. They covered in five minutes what I had failed to understand over the past five months. A visit to the One Million Bones website answered my other questions.

The Million Bones Project is about genocide. It is a “collaborative art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims and survivors who have been killed or displaced by ongoing genocides and humanitarian crises in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burma.”*

In addition to raising awareness, there is a fundraising component. In conjunction with “Students Rebuild,” every bone made as part of this collaboration will result in generating $1 toward the work of CARE in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This awareness-building and fundraising has a physical manifestation in the “bones” that are made by participants all over the nation

Here in Tallahassee, the local project has already created over 10,000 bones and therefore raised over $10,000.  The installation of 6500 bones in Bloxham Park last April made a strong statement:

Tallahassee’s Bloxham Park Installation April 2012

The local One Million Bones group plans future installations at Florida State University as well as 621 Gallery during this academic year.

Ultimately, the national goal is to cover the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with one million handmade bones in 2013.

A Preview Installation in Albuquerque, NM

You may be asking, “why go to all the trouble to shape some clay or plaster into a hipbone or rib (or other bone) replica?” I don’t know about you, but I learn better and am more invested in things I have seen and touched than things I have only heard. If that’s true for me as an adult, I can only imagine that it is even more true for a child or young person.

Students at Tallahassee’s Palmer-Munroe Teen Center make bones for the One Million Bones project.

I am happy to share the news that Journeys in Yoga is donating 100% of the proceeds from its Sunday noon donation classes through the end of October to this project! All levels of yoga are welcomed, and the donation amount is entirely up to you. In addition, Journeys will offer several opportunities in September to make bones before or after a yoga class.

For information about the September 16 bone-making and yoga event at Journeys, click here. (Bone-making is free. Please contact Journeys for class fee information.)

For information about the September 18 bone-making and yoga event at Journeys, click here. (Bone-making is free. Please contact Journeys for class fee information.)

Keep up with the Journeys/One Million Bones partnership schedule via this link.

Follow this sign to do some good for yourself AND for others!

If you have other questions about the One Million Bones project, here are some resources:

The Florida One Million Bones website is

The national One Million Bones website is

The website for Students Rebuild, which focuses on engaging young people, is

You can “like” the One Million Bones/Florida Facebook page here.

You can make your own bone at a Tallahassee First Friday! Information on that is here.

If you want to have a bone made in your name or the name of someone you care about, click here. (These bones will be part of the National Mall display. They are biodegradable and will be filled with flower seeds afterwards and planted around the country to symbolize hope and new life.*)

You can learn more about the local One Million Bones principal organizer, Jane McPherson, here.

You can watch a video about the project here:

Thank you, Journeys, for your generosity not only to causes in our town but to the worldwide community!