Atlanta-based author, Jessica Handler is well acquainted with grief. Her debut memoir, “Invisible Sisters,” is about the deaths of her siblings and the indelible mark that left on her adolescence. At a young age, she began introducing herself as “the well sister,” the healthy one.
In her first novel, “Magnetic Girl,” she has given her young protagonist a fraught coming-of-age story. The fiction debut follows the life of 13-year-old Lulu Hurst in rural North Georgia two decades after the Civil War. Lulu’s profound supernatural, mental connection allows her to control the thoughts of her friends and family.
Lulu travels the Eastern seaboard, captivating enthusiastic crowds by lifting grown men in parlor chairs and throwing them across the stage with her “electrical charge.” Handler discovered the real Lulu Hurst, who the book is based off of, about a decade ago from a an electrical engineering magazine from the 1890s.
“My mother and I were uniformly fascinated by women and girls who were either exceptional physically, intellectually and or culturally,” Handler said about why she chose to write about Lulu.
Handler’s love for Lulu grew as she continued to read articles about her life and her autobiography. She was fascinated by her tenacity to go out on stage as a teenage girl and imitate her miraculous strength with stage tricks. Lulu was also known as the “Georgia Wonder.”
“Magnetic Girl” will be released April 9 and Handler will be discussing her new book with Alison Law, of the Literary Atlanta podcast at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub at 7 p.m.