Invisible Sisters: A Memoir

Public Affairs Press  2009

Diseased blood killed Jessica’s sisters. The medical aspects of these illnesses are explained early in the book. Causation, symptoms, prognoses, are laid out at the beginning, capturing the reader’s interest and sympathy. The human consequences of these illnesses will follow soon enough. 

Meanwhile, the family’s history is described, beginning with Jack and Mimi Handler’s wedding at Brandeis University, and proceeding to a series of moves around the country and outside it as well. After studying for a law degree in Philadelphia, Jack moved his family to Atlanta, Georgia where they joined young liberal Jewish families like themselves who had also migrated there to participate in the 1960’s African American struggle for social justice and voting rights. 

With tenderness as well as lacerating detail, Jesse unfolds the inevitable breakdown of her family: the father, who turned to flight abroad and drugs to escape this family tragedy, and the two sisters who can do nothing but finally succumb to their fates. Jessica alone appears to have been the author of her own survival.    

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