About the Book:
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. 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.
“In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.”
This is a stunning book that lives up to all the high praise!
Family sagas are one of my favorite tropes and this one really delivers a powerful punch. The story of the twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes, the settings move from Mallard, Louisiana, a town so small it isn’t on any maps, to New Orleans, Los Angeles and many stops in between. The twins looks very different, one having light skin and the other darker. When one runs away and leaves her family and her life behind, she ends up living a life that would have been absolutely impossible for her before. The other sister ends up returning to the very place she left many years before.
The author tackles race, family, domestic abuse, privilege, class and gender in a beautiful and often painful saga. While one sister lived a lie for almost her entire life, the author never judges her or faults her. Stella and Desiree could not have lived more different lives, but in the end, the ties of family and identity bring them together. The writing is just stunning!
“I just liked who I was with him.”
“No,” Stella said. “Free.”
Desiree laughed. “Same thing, baby.”
I listened to the audio book and I could not have loved the narrator Shayna Small more. This is a book filled with many strong characters and the narrator made their voices sing. The book spans many decades and is absolutely one of the best books of the year. Timely, heartbreaking and insightful, I won’t soon forget the Vignes sisters.
(Thank you to the publisher for providing an Audiobook Listening Copy via Libro.fm)