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Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker

Friday, March 30, 2007


“One size does not fit all…”

How many times have I thought that upon seeing a OSFA label in a garment?

Miss Invisible Cover

I knew when I read this opening line of Laura Jensen Walker‘s latest inspy chick lit, Miss Invisible, that I was in for a treat. As with the first LJW novel I read (Dreaming in Black & White), by the time I got to the bottom of the first page, I wanted to shout, “Get outta my head!”

Freddie (Frederika Heinz) is a large woman, but smaller than a 22/24 we learn when she first meets Deborah, a flamboyant, larger-than-life (and Freddie) African American woman. Freddie is a cake decorator at a bakery in the small Northern California town where she grew up.

This is a part of the book that struck me on a deep level. Freddie returned “home” to this town after several years (and a broken relationship) in Chicago. She grew up here, but her only friends are her current coworkers and Deborah—after Deborah makes Freddie her friend. Though it is never said in the text of the story, this is one of the symptoms of Freddie’s invisibility—no childhood friends that she hangs out with and reminisces with over the “good times.” Very much like when I moved away from the small town where I grew up and went to college out of state, it was “out of sight, out of mind”—I never really had contact with anyone I grew up with again. I don’t know if LJW set out to show this or if it just happened, but either way, it gave me a deep connection with Freddie.

I read an article yesterday that mentioned how “coming of age” stories are very popular in the literary genre right now. MI isn’t really a coming-of-age story—though Freddie does turn thirty in it. It’s more of a “coming to terms” story. After a lifetime of being told she’s fat, ugly, good-for-nothing (mainly by her father and step-mother) and being ignored or discriminated against, Freddie has to come to terms with who she is (a beautiful, beloved child of God) and that the resentment she’s carried around about this for years has made her not only bitter but it’s made her reverse-discriminate against “skinny” girls.

Deborah, who owns a catering company, becomes Freddie’s Mr. Miyagi, taking her shopping for clothes in some color other than black (I did this about six or seven years ago) and gets her moving—water aerobics, swimming, walking (the only forms of exercise I will do too). My favorite scene in the whole book is the first time Freddie has dinner at Simon’s restaurant.

As Freddie’s confidence grows through Deborah’s friendship, mentoring, spiritual guidance, and positive encouragement, others start noticing Freddie. Now she’s no longer invisible—in fact she has two men fighting over her!

While the spiritual lesson is important (God loves us just as we are) it is never preachy. However, there was one section that did make me skip over a couple of paragraphs because it seemed more like a lecture than a natural flow of dialogue—and that was when Freddie and Deborah are talking about Californians’ obsession with weight and dieting and the problem of childhood obesity.

Something else that pulled me out of the story a little is that Lydia has her baby late one night and is home the next day. Are women really sent home without staying in the hospital at least twenty-four hours after giving birth? Or did I skip a couple of pages or something?

The story did wrap up a little too neatly for me. By the end of the book, Freddie has gotten so completely over her body-image issues that wearing a swimsuit at a pool party doesn’t give her a moment’s hesitation—and she’s still about the same size (though a little more toned) that she was at the beginning of the story. No matter how much spiritual and emotional healing she’s done, something like body-image issues or self-consciousness doesn’t go away that quickly. Even just a brief hesitation before taking off her wrap and then reminding herself of the lessons learned would have helped the ending be a little more realistic for me. Some emotional scars (like a lifetime of verbal abuse over being fat) run a little too deeply for just a couple months of new-found self-confidence to heal.

Don’t let my one problem (and it’s only my opinion) scare you off this great read. I highly recommend this as a fun, light read—LJW has given us another winner!

Next on my TBR pile: Fireworks by Elizabeth White.

  1. Friday, March 30, 2007 10:45 pm

    I so want to read this book. Adding it to my TBR pile. I think Freddie and Deborah could teach me a lot.


  2. Saturday, March 31, 2007 11:11 pm

    >>Are women really sent home without staying in the hospital at least twenty-four hours after giving birth?


  3. Saturday, March 31, 2007 11:13 pm

    It ate the rest of my reply! It has a term, drive-through delivery. Some OB’s these days are even going so far as to refuse to deliver naturally if the woman presents in labor after 5pm. They’ll give you a C-section whether you want one or not. There’s a clinic here that tried to make that their official policy. They lost so many patients that I think they finally scrapped it.


  4. Monday, April 2, 2007 9:37 am

    Interesting. I’ll probably pick this one up. I could go home today and have no one to reminisce with. And yes, depending on the time of delivery, a woman can go home in less than 24 hrs. My girlfriend did.


  5. Heather permalink
    Saturday, September 17, 2011 9:21 pm

    I loved this book!! First one by this author and I will read more of her works!! I’m wondering if someone can give me a list of the old movies mentioned in the book?? I wanted to watch on and I wrote down the name and lost it!! I dont want to reread the book to find it again!! I tried thumbing through but couldnt find it!!



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