Wednesday, June 25, 2014

'Invisible' by Ginny Yttrup

Invisible: A Novel
Ellyn DeMoss -- chef, café owner, and lover of butter -- is hiding behind her extra weight. But what is she hiding? While Ellyn sees the good in others, she has only condemnation for herself. So when a handsome widower claims he’s attracted to Ellyn, she’s certain there’s something wrong with him. Sabina Jackson -- tall, slender, and exotic -- left her husband, young adult daughters, and a thriving counseling practice to spend a year in Northern California where she says she’s come to heal. But it seems to Ellyn that Sabina’s doing more hiding than healing. What’s she hiding from? Is it God? Twila Boaz has come out of hiding and is working to gain back the pounds she lost when her only goal was to disappear. When her eating disorder is triggered again, though she longs to hide, she instead follows God and fights for her own survival. But will she succeed? As these women’s lives intertwine, their eyes open to the glory within each of them as they begin to recognize themselves as being created in God’s image. 

 I love it that the four main characters are instruments of healing to the others, even though they each battle with grief and shame in their own ways. Ellyn the chef loves her food, especially gorgeous globs of butter, and wonders whether she loves food more than she loves God. Sabina is dealing with depression, and even though staying in bed is no longer satisfactory, she can't muster a spark of energy for anything else. Twila is a young woman recovering from anorexia and trying to deal with the hurt that triggered it. Miles is a doctor who couldn't save his wife's life.

I found myself challenged by the notion of what it really takes to be a good friend. It may mean we need to behave in a way which annoys the other person. It is easy to choose the path of least resistance, wanting to come across as 'nice' by going along with our friends and letting them do what they claim they want to. But true friends risk objections, annoyance, rejection, and coming across as pushy. It takes intuitiveness and a willingness to be unpopular. This comes across in the friendship between Ellyn and Sabina especially.

Some readers may think this is a book about 'nothing', because each woman's heartache goes largely unseen by the wide world. Those who don't understand may think, 'Why don't they just snap out of it and use a bit of will power?', but although the characters' behaviour may seem trivial, their issues have the potential to ruin their lives. They may cause and prolong their problems by the patterns of their thoughts, but this makes it no easier to stop.

It's interesting to see how food is all tied up with the emotions. Hurting people, such as overweight Ellyn and anorexic Twila, may use it to try to control or help deal with their issues.

The overriding theme is that everyone is made in God's image (Imago Dei) and carries their own inner beauty which should not be concealed. For example, the story makes it clear that Ellyn's excess weight does not detract from her beauty at all, and is only a potential problem as far as her health and self-concept is concerned. It shows that part of being created in God's image is reflecting Him to others, yet it's hard to do this when you're mired in your own pain. Although we may have different manifestations of hurt, the underlying issues may be highly similar. For this reason alone, the book would probably strike a chord with every readers and deserves a high rating.

'He wants you for Himself. He wants to enjoy you, lavish you with His love, and complete the good work He's begun in you.' That goes for all of us who read the book.

4.5 stars

  Invisible: A Novel available from Amazon

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