I sought out Invisible by Ginny Yttrup because I dearly loved her first novel, Words: it was one of my favorite books of 2011.
Invisible tells the story of three very different women who become friends. Normally I don’t just copy the publisher’s description of a book, but in this case it seemed the fullest yet the most concise way to sum them up:
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?
Though two of the characters have issues pertaining to weight, the book is not about weight: it’s about what it means to be made in the image of God and what the implications of that are in our lives. Each character has to learn that we don’t do certain things outwardly in order to be made in the image of God: we already are. And when rightly understood, that truth permeates our being and affects our thinking and then our outward actions.
I don’t want to reveal much more about the plot than that. Though the book didn’t grab me from the first page and not let go like Words did, it still provided much food for thought and I enjoyed it.
The character I liked the most was Miles, friend to all three main characters and potential love interest of one. His walk with God and the way he sought His guidance in everyday life was very realistic to me. This is one reason I love Christian fiction: this is the missing element, the ultimate reality missing in secular stories, no matter how good they are. Sometimes people accuse Christian fiction of being a sermon disguised as a story or a story with spiritual bits put in in order to make it “Christian,” but neither is the case in Ginny’s work (or even of the great majority of Christian fiction I’ve read.) Her characters are genuine (if sometimes a bit unconventional, in the case of Twila), and though there is spiritual truth she is trying to convey, each character grapples with it in a natural and realistic way.
Here are a few quotes that stood out to me from the book:
“I’ve learned enough through the years that when God is silent, it’s my cue to hold on tight. Do nothing. Wait on Him” (p. 49).
“When I pass from the discomfort of need to the tranquility of satisfaction, the very transition contains for me the insidious trap of uncontrolled desire. Augustine” (p. 168).
“I have forgiven him and I will forgive him again. But I won’t allow him to use me or mistreat me” (p. 262).
“Oh, Lord, remind me that this confrontation is an act of love and respect for both myself and my mom. It is not retaliation for years of pain” (p. 310).
There were just a couple of things that bothered me to a degree. One was Twila’s worship experience (pp. 166-167), which seemed a little New Age-y to me but would probably be called contemplative (which I don’t know a lot about yet but am not a fan of what I do know). The other was Ellyn asking if a dress had too much cleavage and Sabina telling her it was “lovely and appropriate” (p. 326). In my book no amount of cleavage is appropriate for anyone other than one’s husband in private.
But with those caveats, this is a book I am happy to recommend.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)