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.
“Brit Bennett’s second novel broke my heart. She doesn’t shy away from the sadness inherent in each character’s life, yet she left me feeling better for having met all of them. I read The Vanishing Half with a sense of hope, despite my dread that terrible things might befall the characters. Desiree and Stella’s story unfolds with a deft delicateness in a book that is astonishingly accomplished and sweeping, and yet so very intimate.”Jamie Thomas, Women & Children First
“The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett definitely lives up to the glowing reviews it has been receiving. The story reveals an interesting perspective on this history of race in the United States, while also telling a universal story of difficult decisions that change the course of life forever. Bennett doesn't offer pretty bows to tie up her narrative, but a realistic portrait of what we will sacrifice on behalf of our futures.”Tina, Leaves Book and Tea Shop
“This is an intriguing story, part family saga, part social commentary, about twin sisters whose lives diverged into two very different directions. Desiree and Stella grew up in Mallard, Louisiana, a place that didn't show up on any map and a community that in the 1960s was racist in a peculiar way: the population was almost exclusively very light-skinned African Americans, many of whom could pass for white. Fourteen years before the story begins, Desiree and Stella suddenly left home together to find work in New Orleans. Shortly afterwards, Stella disappeared without a trace. Desiree married, had a child, and in 1968 decided to return to Mallard to her mother's house to escape an abusive husband. Skipping ahead ten years to 1978, we meet Stella, who has also married and had a child, and now lives in California in an exclusively white upscale neighborhood where not even her husband knows about her African American blood. In a coincidence that the author makes seem believable, the twins' daughters meet, and Stella's secret is in danger of being exposed. Bennett's characters are well-developed and provide a clearly-drawn portrait of race, gender, and the ties that hold families and relationships together.”Alice, Blue Willow Bookshop
“The Vanishing Half may go down as one of my favorite books of all time. Brit Bennett's narrative style is engrossing, the constant shift in timeline beyond compelling. But more than that, this is a book that deals with so much - racism, colorism & passing, sexism & domestic abuse, trans rights, family dynamics... the list goes on - with unbelievable nuance and empathy. A timely, complex, mysterious (and romantic) epic, The Vanishing Half is a force to be reckoned with. A must read for all - but especially worth consideration for book clubs and classroom reading lists.”Britt, Second Star to the Right
“This is a beautifully written, stunning, and scandalous story about two identical black twin girls, one who runs away from home at age 16. And then their lives completely shift, as one continues living her life as a Black woman, and the other that tries to pass herself off as white. This novel came at just the right time, in the middle of the Black Lives Matter protests and racial unrest in the United States. Brit Bennett has done a brilliant job with her novel! It is compelling and the audiobook on Libro.fm is exceptional!”Marilyn, BookBar
If you enjoyed Red at the Bone, then you’ll love The Vanishing Half.
“Brit Bennett’s haunting second novel is carried on the shoulders of a robust cast of characters—namely, Stella and Desiree Vignes, twin sisters born in 1940s Louisiana, Black but pale as can be. Soon after running away to New Orleans, they separate for the first time in their lives. Stella begins passing every day as a white woman; Desiree marries a dark-skinned man and has an ever darker daughter. Decades pass, and children leave home, wondering about where they came from just as much as where they’re going. But some secrets aren’t meant to be kept. As if Bennett’s rich storytelling wasn’t enough, I was absolutely hooked by the Black trans joy represented in this book. A future classic.”Mary, Raven Book Store
“Within the first few pages of The Vanishing Half, I knew I was reading something special. In this slow-burn novel, twins Desiree and Stella grow up in Mallard, a small black community in segregated Louisiana that prides itself on the lightness of its people’s skin. At sixteen, the twins flee from Mallard after their mother pulls them out of school to work cleaning white people’s houses, sacrificing the familiarity of home, the safety of their community, and the predictable trajectory of their lives. In New Orleans, the twins begin their new lives together, but eventually Stella takes off on her own, choosing to live the rest of her life “passing” as white; Desiree marries a dark-skinned man, has a child who looks like him, and ends up living back in Mallard. The consequences of the twins’ life choices unfold throughout the book, from the 1950s to the 1990s, and include the lives (and perspectives) of their daughters, Kennedy and Jude. The Vanishing Half is a fascinating story about family relationships, identity, and belonging, and I savored every page.”Anika, Phinney Books
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. Many 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.
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