Jessica Handler’s The Magnetic Girl transports readers to an electrifying era of American history

Thirteen-year-old Lulu Hurst shares a special connection with her disabled younger brother Leo, but she has big dreams of a future far away from her rural north Georgia home—a future where she will not become her brother’s sole caregiver. Yearning to see the world and thankful for her ability to change her family’s dire financial situation, Lulu agrees to follow her father’s plan to capitalize on America’s newfound fascination with Spiritualism, Mesmerism, Magnetism and electricity. Claiming Lulu can pass electricity through canes and throw men out of chairs with an “electrical charge,” which she came to possess from a lightning storm over their house, Lulu and her parents take “The Magnetic Girl” on the road. While traveling by train to perform to enthusiastic crowds from the vaudeville stages along the Eastern seaboard, Lulu absorbs every new experience while reading an obscure book from her father’s study, The Truth of Mesmeric Influence. Convinced she can move beyond her current “marks” and parlor tricks to apply the secrets from the book to heal people, Lulu wants to change the act, but will her father agree?

Imagine the split second before the dice finish rolling, before a tipped back chair rights itself, or before the sleight of hand is slyly applied. You may ask yourself “what is the most likely possibility?” but you must also acknowledge the disconnect between your mind’s logic and your heart’s will to believe. The Magnetic Girl magically exists in that single breath when fates are decided. Full of family secrets, sacrifices, fame and greed The Magnetic Girl will transport you to a late 1880s America where curiosity, dreams, and delusions challenged people’s beliefs at every turn. Author Jessica Handler’s spectacular talent for portraying the unique complexities of girls and women shines through in her telling of the journey of Lulu Hurst “The Georgia Wonder.” From awkward and outcast farm girl to captivating vaudeville star, Lulu discovers her power over her patrons, parents, and most importantly within herself.


Jessica Handler is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Invisible Sisters: A Memoir. The Magnetic Girl, Handler’s debut fiction novel, has already received accolades from multiple fellow authors and publications, a starred Kirkus review, and is the first selection of Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain Fund Book Series.