The Vanishing Half
By: Brit Bennett
From The New York Times -bestselling author of The Mothers , a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Bookish tip: Readers may develop a book hangover.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is the most thought-provoking novel that I have read in a while (probably since Dear Edward). It is such a beautifully written tale. Bennett’s talent is beyond words. Told through flash backs and multiple point of views, this multi-generational tale will take you on a beautiful ride through time.
Bennett’s characters feel so real. Each individually faces so many different obstacles and hardships – racism, domestic violence, sexual assault, sexism, hatred, transphobia, etc. They survive their circumstances with such bravery and humility. I had my favorite characters including a favorite twin but I think that I will keep that to myself in order for this review to remain unbiased.
Although I could have easily devoured the novel, I chose to take my time. I read a bit and then found myself contemplating the plot. I felt the need to fully understand the situations of both twins and their families before I continued reading more.
I recommend that you do this as well. There is a lot going on and a lot to process. There are a ton of questions that will race through your mind which is what I love most about The Vanishing Half. If I was Stella or if I was Desiree, would I do the same? To this day, I still wonder. It’s a hard read and I am so glad I read it.
Recommendation: THIS IS A MUST READ!
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