Wall Street Journal names Prof. Handler’s debut novel among ‘The 10 books you’ll want to read this spring’

Writing professor Jessica Handler’s debut novel, The Magnetic Girl, will be released April 9 by Hub City Press and the praise is already rolling in.

Set in 1883, The Magnetic Girl is a coming-of-age novel that looks at one girl’s power over herself and those around her. Protagonist Lulu Hurst discovers a book that sparks her interest in electricity, a technology not yet well known to American life. Inspired by this new discovery, she convinces people that she can conduct electricity through her touch and begins traveling around the country performing feats of magic for excited onlookers.

The novel is based on the real Lulu Hurst, a Georgia native and vaudevillian performer who amazed people with her ability to demonstrate feats of great physical strength, a skill supposedly developed after an electrical storm.

“I hope that with this book readers fall in love, like I did, with Lulu Hurst, who is a mostly forgotten – and fascinating – figure from the late nineteenth century,” Handler says of the book.

The Wall Street Journal has included the book among its “The 10 Books You’ll Want to Read This Spring.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution named Handler’s work among “10 Southern books we want to read in 2019“.

New York Times best-selling author Wiley Cash says, “Like the powers of Lulu Hurst, Jessica Handler’s literary power feels like a sleight of hand. It’s impossible that a novel can be this beautiful, this haunting, and this resonant, but your eyes (and your heart) are not deceiving you. The Magnetic Girl is a gorgeous, brutal book: a strange alchemy of love, fear, fate, and hope.”

Therese Anne Fowler, also a New York Times best-selling author, says “The Magnetic Girl is a compassionate, clear-eyed coming-of-age tale unlike anything I’ve read. The story belongs to Lulu Hurst, but Handler is the one doing the true mesmerizing. What a unique, accomplished debut!”

Jessica Handler

Handler’s first work of fiction follows her two other books, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir and Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing about Grief. She also regularly publishes essays and non-fiction features on NPR and in publications such as Newsweek, and The Washington Post.

A number of local events are scheduled around the debut:

You can learn more at and pre-order the book here.

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