My friend Jessica Handler has blossomed into Southern Belle in a two-page spread in the February issue of Vanity Fair. Her memoir Invisible Sisters does indeed deal with grief and family, although that summary by Alan Deutschman cannot begin to describe the extraordinary journey her family endured losing Jessica’s two sisters. And yet that stunning photo in Vanity Fair captures the amazing grace and fervor with which Jessica continues to move forward in life. My students at StoryStudio Chicago and I were fortunate enough to host Jessica for an author Q&A session in the fall of 2009, which Jessica so cleverly suggested we run via Skype, ushering in a whole new way of talking to an author. She shared with us her experience of what it’s like to get a book published, and how hands on it can be: At one point, she spread all the chapters of her book out in her house to work out their order. All along her hallway and up the stairs sheets of paper were lined up, with Jessica hopping about, talking to her agent, trying to figure out where the best spot would be to mention the high school years, or the first shocking diagnosis, and where to place the happiness and love of that family that did exist before illness and amidst all the heartbreak.
Congratulations, Jessica, on making it, so elegantly, to the pages of Vanity Fair!