Jessica Handler is the author of the novel The Magnetic Girl, the memoir Invisible Sisters, and the craft guide Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss. Her writing appears widely, including on NPR, in Tin House, The Bitter Southerner, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Newsweek,and The Washington Post. She teaches creative writing and coordinates the Minor in Writing at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and lectures internationally on writing.
10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Senate Committee Room F
The Magnetic Girl: A Novel
11:15 a.m. to Noon
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
The Magnetic Girl: A Novel
Wall Street Journal's Ten Books You'll Want to Read This Spring
Indie Next Pick, April 2019
Spring Okra Pick from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
In rural north Georgia two decades after the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Lulu Hurst reaches high into her father’s bookshelf and pulls out an obscure book, The Truth of Mesmeric Influence. Deemed gangly and undesirable, Lulu wants more than a lifetime of caring for her disabled baby brother, Leo, with whom she shares a profound and supernatural mental connection.
“I only wanted to be Lulu Hurst, the girl who captivated her brother until he could walk and talk and stand tall on his own. Then I would be the girl who could leave.”
Lulu begins to “captivate” her friends and family, controlling their thoughts and actions for brief moments at a time. After Lulu convinces a cousin she conducts electricity with her touch, her father sees a unique opportunity. He grooms his tall and indelicate daughter into an electrifying new woman: The Magnetic Girl. 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.”
While adjusting to life on the vaudeville stage, Lulu harbors a secret belief that she can use her newfound gifts, as well as her growing notoriety, to heal her brother. As she delves into the mysterious book’s pages, she discovers keys to her father’s past and her own future--but how will she harness its secrets to heal her family?
Gorgeously envisioned, The Magnetic Girl is set at a time when the emerging presence of electricity raised suspicions about the other-worldly gospel of Spiritualism, and when women’s desire for political, cultural, and sexual presence electrified the country. Squarely in the realm of Emma Donoghue's The Wonder and Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels, The Magnetic Girl is a unique portrait of a forgotten period in history, seen through the story of one young woman’s power over her family, her community, and ultimately, herself.
Book-loving volunteers are essential to the Louisiana Book Festival's success. Whether it's escorting authors, guiding visitors, selling refreshments, working with children in the Young Readers Pavilion or other fun and rewarding assignments, the Louisiana Book Festival wants you to join the volunteer team.