Christy Award winner, Ginny Yttrup returns with a contemporary novel which will have readers examining their own physical and emotional well being. Told in alternating first person voices, we follow three very different women who beyond their unique life stories share one similarity. All have shaped and guarded their lives so that their true selves, their fears and desires, are hidden. Basically, they seek to be invisible.
On the outside Ellyn, successful chef and restaurateur, doesn’t seem to have any problems. Her customers and staff love her. Her flamboyant red hair and engaging smiles can’t be forgotten, but no one hears “Earl’s” destructive voice that constantly feeds Ellyn’s negative self-image. When the forty-two year old begins receiving attention from a good looking, caring widower, Ellyn cannot overcome Earl’s vision that, too fat, she will fail at any relationship she seeks. In a desperate attempt to lose some weight and possibly prevent some health complications, Ellyn seeks the help of a young health store worker, Twila.
Twila has appears to have the God-given gifts of empathy and healing. She attributes her sensitive caring to her own past pain. Readers will soon realize that the frail twenty-something girl with the profound tattoos battles an eating disorder and anything that threatens her self-constructed reality also threatens her recovery. Readers will also Yttrup’s wonderful depiction of someone who daily makes the conscience effort to choose faith in God over the inner dark thoughts that destroy. Despite her personal battles, she genuinely hopes to help Ellyn.
At first our third main character will be an unlikely member of this invisible trio. Tall and exotically beautiful, Sabina is new to the community. A couple chance meetings thrust Sabina and Ellyn together, and a cautious friendship begins. It is then we learn that Sabina, a highly successful counselor, has left behind her practice and husband for a year-long sabbatical at this tiny north Californian village. While she admits that it is time she needs to heal, for the longest time she withholds her real need to disappear into anonymity. As she begins to sense that both Ellyn and Twila need help, she also realizes that she cannot help anyone else without revealing her own hidden pain, and most of all, her refusal to see God’s presence in her life.
Yttrup begins each chapter with a quotation from Saint Augustine whose 3rd-4th Century writings inspired her to see the truth of her own inner struggles. This most powerful quotation is the central theme around which the trio of ladies find their revelations: Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long course of the rivers¸ at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.
With characters ranging in age from twenty to seventy-five and with a message that transcends any age group¸ Invisible will appeal to a wide group of readers. Those whose lives have been touched by ED (eating disorders) may be apprehensive, but despite the uncomfortable memories the book may evoke, I think you’ll appreciate the insight. I received a copy of Invisible from Handlebar Publishing for review purposes. All opinions are mine. Check out Yttrup's website for more about the author and her writings.