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Publisher's Summary

An exploration of women navigating serious health issues at an age where they're expected to be healthy, dating, having careers and children.

Miriam's doctor didn't believe she had breast cancer. She did.

Sophie navigates being the only black scientist in her lab while studying the very disease, HIV, that she hides from her coworkers.

For Victoria, coming out as a transgender woman was less difficult than coming out as bipolar.

Author Michele Lent Hirsch knew she couldn't be the only woman who's faced serious health issues at a young age, as well as the resulting effects on her career, her relationships, and her sense of self. What she found while researching Invisible was a surprisingly large and overlooked population with important stories to tell.

Though young women with serious illness tend to be seen as outliers, young female patients are in fact the primary demographic for many illnesses. They are also one of the most ignored groups in our medical system - a system where young women, especially women of color and trans women, are invisible.

And because of expectations about gender and age, young women with health issues must often deal with bias in their careers and personal lives. Not only do they feel pressured to seem perfect and youthful, they also find themselves amid labyrinthine obstacles in a culture that has one narrow idea of womanhood.

Lent Hirsch weaves her own harrowing experiences together with stories from other women, perspectives from sociologists on structural inequality, and insights from neuroscientists on misogyny in health research. She shows how health issues and disabilities amplify what women in general already confront: warped beauty standards, workplace sexism, worries about romantic partners, and mistrust of their own bodies. By shining a light on this hidden demographic, Lent Hirsch explores the challenges that all women face.

©2018 Michele Lent Hirsch (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“An essential read for all, especially those wondering how to be a better support system for young women with chronic illnesses.”— Library Journal, Starred Review“It is an untapped, niche area for advice that Hirsch covers with relatability, grace, and empathy.”— Publishers Weekly“A well-researched account . . . At a moment when women’s experiences in the workplace have come to the fore, Hirsch’s eye-opening study of gender-based disparity surrounding illness will hopefully help spawn a similar reckoning for women’s health.”— Kirkus Reviews“I know what it means to work really hard to conceal the pain, struggle, and heartache in one’s life, to appear ‘fine’ just for the sake of other people. Because the reality of my life might have made others momentarily uncomfortable, I’d hide my own discomfort. It’s a hard habit to break and one that women have become adept at, one that is reinforced in the way our society treats, talks about, and engages with women who are ill or struggling. Thank you, Michele, for freeing us from the burden of being fine and shining a light on all the hidden pain women have been working so hard to conceal.”—Nora McInerny, podcast host for Terrible, Thanks for Asking and author of It’s Okay to Laugh

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Final Section Worth The Listen

Any additional comments?

This book is split into three areas relating to women with chronic illness - relationships, workplace, and doctors. The first two sections, in my opinion, were just a long series of very similar personal testimonies. While that can be interesting, I don't feel like I learned anything new. What's that you say? Men are trash and mistreat women when they're struggling? SHOCKING. The third section however, was more of a deep dive into the mistreatment of women by doctors and its systemic routes with documented examples, as well as personal testimonies. If all three sections had been like the third, I would have loved this book. Regardless, it's definitely a comfort to anyone reading who suffers from any kind of chronic illness and worth the read if that's what you're looking for.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A must read!

I absolutely loved this book and couldn't stop listening to it. I felt like I was best friends with the author by the end of it and was going through this journey with her. It's a great mix of biography, sociology, feminism, disability studies, and much more. As a health student, I loved hearing the perspectives and experiences. She had a super intersectional approach and reflected a broad range of backgrounds.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful