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The Magnetic Girl

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  221 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Gorgeously envisioned, and based on a true story, 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 ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Hub City Press
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Hub City Press Hi Chelsea! Sorry for not noticing this earlier. This title has been recommended for young adult readers by Booklist Magazine (the trade of the…moreHi Chelsea! Sorry for not noticing this earlier. This title has been recommended for young adult readers by Booklist Magazine (the trade of the American Library Association) Their review stated: YAs will likely be won over by young Lulu Hurst as she discovers her true self and asserts her independence. —Melissa Norstedt

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Average rating 3.19  · 
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 ·  221 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up. I liked the young, female protagonist but I wanted a little more depth. The reader is given a lot of interesting plot scenarios that grab your attention but I could have handled them a little more fleshed out. I would say this was a good read but not superb. Certainly not a waste of time.

Note to self: One of the books Charles Frazier is promoting through Hub city Writers Project. See Watershed by mark Barr in Oct 2019
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love history, which may be why so much historical fiction fails to work for me. I get caught up in some small detail that feels off, and get pulled away from the world of the novel. That didn't happen once in _The Magnetic Girl_; the time period feels so right that I was instantly immersed in 1880s Georgia, and never drifted away.

And that meant my attention could be devoted to the characters, which is the reason I read fiction. Lulu is a fully realized character, as are her family, friends,
Susan White
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Marvelously steeped in history, but oh-so-relevant to the issues women face today, The Magnetic Girl is an electrifying work of fiction by the luminously talented Jessica Handler. I loved reading of Lulu Hurst's journey from unknown farm girl to stage wonder, and how she finds herself in the process--though not without sacrifice. Highly recommend!
Vicki Lane
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Jessica Handler's new book is enthralling -- dare I say mesmerizing? It's a novel based on the real Lulu Hurst, aka The Georgia Wonder, who had a brief (1884-1885) career touring as a vaudeville act. She was touted as having supernormal strength and magnetism due to powers she developed after a lightning storm.

That restless period of history was filled with charlatans of every sort as well as simple folk, eager to believe. (I explored this a bit in the historical subplot of Under the Skin.)
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I guess I will be the only person who does not love this book. I just don't. Ms. Handler is clearly an excellent wordsmith, but I really, disliked everyone in this book including Lulu, who I wanted to like, but just couldn't.
Rhiannon Johnson
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
**This review was featured in the May issue of Alpharetta Lifestyle magazine**
Read it here:

Acclaimed Atlanta Author Makes Fiction Debut
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
Robert Sheard
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting historical narrative, but some structural issues kept me from enjoying it entirely.
Lindsay Loson
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
"We have tides in us, rolling like the ocean. Magnetism is its name."

I want to first thank Hub City Press and the lovely ladies there for gifting me this book! I was entranced by Lulu's tale and really loved the layout and cover art of this book. I only had a few minor issues that had to do with proofreading errors (words missing, dates wrong) which is what gives this a 3.5 for me, but otherwise I did enjoy this book. It took a while for me to get going in it, but once I did I didn't want to
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
“People want miracles. They want the promise that someone is enlightened or gifted enough to reach past the limits of the every day.”

Based on the real life of Lulu Hurst, the Georgia Wonder, “The Magnetic Girl” follows the fictional Lulu Hurst. The 1880’s were a time of religious revival, spiritualist, mesmerists, magnetist and spiritual grifters. The bloody Civil War’s path of human destruction and loss reached beyond the surrender. People wanted comfort; a reason to explain and cure pain and
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-hiatus
I can't get into this book. The first third is clunky while it seems like it is trying to stay light. A young girl grappling with a heavy, sad life in which her options are limited and she feels responsible for her brother's woes. It feels like a job to read another chapter.
Anyone else having this issue?
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
family goes on road for her to perform / Little Leo left behind / gave to SW person
Here are my thoughts right after finishing the book, but before I met with the author and discussed the book:

This was a bit of a stretch for our sci-fi book club. I dived right in and wasn't mesmerized or captivated, and actually had to restart the book because I was trying to read too many books at once and lost track of what I'd read in this book. The second time through was a bit better--maybe I was more focused--but the story itself just seemed kind of wandering. I kept expecting a big life
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm in the absquatulation camp. I think that any novel that drops in a word like that near the end deserves an extra gold star. This was a random pick based on cover and title. I enjoyed it from the get-go (made for interesting fictionalized history follow-up to MacBride's "The Lord God Bird"). I found the tension between her father's past and his exploitation of her to her own belief in ability to captivate very effective. I had the sense of her coming of age. I was intrigued to read in the ...more
Amy Bonesteel
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I made the mistake of starting this book in the midst of several others; it deserves a straight-through read. It’s about a period in the South with a lot of economic and social upheaval taking place (post-Civil War) and one girl’s foray into stage “performing” using science-based tricks and intuition. LuLu Hurst has something to prove and someone to “fix” which is the central quest of the character (she is based on a real person). There’s a rollicking cast of eccentrics popping up - think a “ ...more
Ed Maher
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
The category of historical fiction has become a catch all genre for subject matter of little historical significance. The Magnetic Girl is such an aberration. In the author’s afterward, she admits the existence of such a person, but all other characters in the story are made up. The Magnetic Girl toured the country after the Civil War professing to move people and objects through electromagnetic powers. She’s basically a fraud perpetuated by her criminal father. The story is told in first person ...more
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Fascinating premise. A young woman growing up in rural poverty believes herself to be responsible for her younger brother's disability. As she discovers that she has psychic powers, she dreams of helping heal her brother and of escaping her small rural town. Her father, not believing that his daughter's "powers" are much more than sleight of hand, concocts the scheme of a mesmerism act for his daughter, billed as "Magnetic Girl." So much interesting material to work with, but the narrative ...more
Jake Owens
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
It's such an extremely "okay" book. A story about spiritualism in the postbellum South is a gimmie for any author trying to get me invested, and I'm even now surprised at how little I care about it having read it. I feel like it should have been more, done more, and said more than what it did. The story is fine. The prose is good. It flirted an uncomfortable amount with a YA tone, but it wasn't unbearable. It's fine. It's an amusing book with an alright story. But with all of the knock-out ...more
May 03, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fiction
Having a disabled brother, it took me literally .2 seconds to add this book to my shelf. I, too, have dreams of not being my beloved brother's sole caregiver once my parents are gone, and so I feel like this book will be very relatable for me. I am looking forward to reading it, though I anticipate that it will not be an easy read.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclaimer. I met Jessica a few years back at Ladies Rock Camp in Atlanta. That said, I was thrilled when she announced she was writing a novel. “The Magnetic Girl” is fascinating. It’s a brilliant, inventive novel based on the life a young girl believed to have magical, “mesmeric” powers. I was drawn to the younger brother’s character, Leo, and found the whole book a delight. If you enjoy mystical books about the American South, I highly recommend you lift “The Magnetic Girl” off the ...more
Shannon Navin
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I recently received an electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler and was excited to have the chance to read it. The cover is fantastic (as you can see above) and I truly believe that a great cover is the first step toward drawing in the reader. The Magnetic Girl is 280 pages and I found it to be a quick read. I really enjoyed the book and have to say it was a sleeper for me…by which I mean that, I’ve found myself thinking about it a great deal more than I ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic, edelweiss
An amazing historical fiction, well written and enthralling.
It's the type of book you cannot put down and will keep you hooked till the last page.
I loved everything in this book and look forward to reading other books by this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Hub City Press and Edelweiss for this ARC. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all opinions are mine
2.5 stars. While the story itself was captivating, I found the actual storytelling from Lulu’ perspective to be disorienting. Perhaps that was intentional; perhaps I’m just not a fan of Handler’s style. The few forays into Will’s past and present were much more direct and I followed his narrative far better than Lulu’s meandering structure. I recognize that I’m in the minority on this one.
Allan Kemp
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction at its best. Jessica Handler's story about Lulu Hurst, the Magnetic Girl, is as captivating as Ms. Hurst was when she was on stage, mesmerizing her audience with her prose and pacing.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
3.5 Stars - the writing didn’t really catch me.
Suzi McGhie
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A somewhat intriguing tale with very good descriptive settings of the time period but too much repetitive introspection by the main character, Lulu.
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pg 142 and I just don’t care...
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
A lot of interesting ideas that weren’t fleshed out enough.
Did not grab me at all, I felt like I've read "girl feels out of place in her time and life" so many times and there was nothing here to keep me going.
Pam Coon
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lulu Hurst is a 13 year old girl living in rural north Georgia two decades after the civil war. She harbors a secret she cannot divulge to her parents: that in her younger girlhood she held her baby brother up in the air, lost the hold on him, and dropped him on the floor, hitting his head with a "smack". He has never been right since, his speech is barely comprehendable, he cannot walk normally, and in every way is behind in development. Of course Lulu feels responsible and is convinced that ...more
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Jessica Handler is the author of the novel, "The Magnetic Girl," an Indie Next pick for April 2019 and a SIBA "Okra Pick." The Wall Street Journal called "The Magnetic Girl" one of the ten books to read in Spring, 2019, and Kirkus awarded the book a starred review. She is also the author of the craft guide," Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief," and the memoir, "Invisible Sisters," ...more