'Invisible Girls' latest Maroon Edition selection

Sarah Thebarge's "The Invisible Girls: A Memoir" is the 2014 Maroon Edition selection at Mississippi State.

Maroon Edition is the annual university-wide program that encourages incoming freshman class members to read the same book during the summer. Participants then engage in dialog with other students, administration, faculty and staff members throughout the school year.

"We hope that all of next fall's incoming freshmen will read the book before the fall semester begins and participate in related activities planned for next academic year," said President Mark E. Keenum in making the announcement March 3.

A Pennsylvania minister's daughter, Thebarge had earned a master's degree from the Yale School of Medicine and was studying journalism at Columbia University when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27.

Published last year by Jericho Books, "Invisible Girls" chronicles Thebarge's diagnosis, years of treatment that left her an emotional and physical wreck, and drastic changes in career plans and relationships as she relocated to Oregon in an effort to put her life back together. While in Portland, an unexpected involvement with a struggling Somalia refugee mother and daughters -- "invisible" people in their own neighborhood- - led her to better understand and overcome her own devastation and realize that she also had been an "invisible girl."

"This powerful story helps readers see the world around us with new eyes," Keenum said. Calling the book "reading time well spent," he noted that Thebarge's writings also have been included in "Just Between Us," "Relevant" and "Christianity Today," and featured on MSNBC.com.

All incoming freshmen attending MSU's spring or summer orientation sessions will receive a copy of the 272-page book. It will be available to others through the Barnes & Noble at Mississippi State and numerous other bookstores and online booksellers.

For information about 2014 Maroon Edition events and activities being planned for the year, visit http://maroonedition.msstate.edu.

Sammy McDavid | Public Affairs

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