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

Michele Lent Hirsch. Beacon, $26.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-8070-2395-2
Hirsch, plagued by a variety of medical issues—Lyme disease, thyroid cancer, and mast-cell-activation syndrome, among other problems—starting in her early 20s, decided to seek out other young women going through the same experience of facing life-changing medical problems. Her project unearthed significant differences in how women reacted to being diagnosed with serious health conditions, the subject of her informative debut book. Interspersing her own story with those of the women she interviewed and with the results of research studies, she recounts stories of discrimination and misunderstanding, particularly since, she writes, many of her interviewees suffer from conditions that aren’t always outwardly visible and doctors tend to underestimate women’s symptoms. Some women choose to keep their struggle secret, while others fight tenaciously to avoid being defined by illness, or they publicly “challenge the popular rhetoric” around their disease. Hirsch found that, as she does, her interviewees feel “off time—out of sync with what they were taught it means to be young.” Through her discussions with other women who also have conditions that are not easily categorized, she realized that “disability is largely about the world’s failure to make space for you.” It is an untapped, niche area for advice that Hirsch covers with relatability, grace, and empathy. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2018
Release date: 02/27/2018
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