From the first page, Victoria Janosevic hooks us with a story about how a 30-something man shrugged off her request to help her lift a heavy bag of concrete from her trunk at Home Depot. She was in her early 50s then. “Meanwhile, a woman near my age saw the incident and then gazed at me meaningfully,” silently commiserating about the rude behavior. They were, after all, old enough to be his mother and understood how easy it was for him to dismiss them.
In When Women Become Invisible, Janosevic, a free-spirited travel agent, candidly writes about her personal experiences and society’s perception of women “of a certain age.” Labeled as a “self improvement” book, this is actually a lively memoir by a woman determined not to give in and give up.
Janosevic’s vulnerability, straightforward writing style, and simple but realistic dialogue make us feel as if we’ve known her for years. We are saddened by her callously handled childhood in orphanages in post-WWII Germany. We bristle at her account of the middle-aged lover who thought she, at age 23, was too old for his tastes, cringe as she gets her first facial filler treatment and sheepishly agree when she reminds us of how we play into our own invisibility when we forego regular exercise, swap our heels for flats, and stop wearing makeup. And we cheer her successes, like learning to fly a plane in her 40s.
Despite this topic’s potential for negativity, Janosevic manages to maintain a lighthearted tone and an ability to discuss past heartaches and mistakes without bitterness. One hallmark of a good book is its ability to lead us on a journey that ultimately satisfies. Janosevic’s book does exactly that, with her priorities changing over the years as she worries less and less about her fleeting youth. Now, when she starts to feel sorry for herself, she says, she looks in the mirror and proudly says, “This is me now.”
Also available as an ebook.