The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
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.
June 2nd, 2020
Family Drama Fiction
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was a highly anticipated 2020 book for me. Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers was one of my favorite books of 2016 and I was blown away by her gorgeous and compelling writing style.
The Vanishing Half has a completely unique storyline that is composed of so many thought-provoking and timely themes. The plot spans decades and shares the perspectives of twin sisters and their two daughters whose lives eventually intersect. They all take very different paths in life and struggle in their own unique ways.
Issues of race, gender, self-doubt, identity and family relationships all come into play. I loved how many important and timely topics were personified and just part of each character’s overall storylines.
Bennett’s characters are well developed and none of them are free of heartaches or regrets even though they chose to live their lives very differently. I appreciated the multifaceted narratives of these women and this was just such a powerful, thought-provoking and moving novel.
Thank you to Riverhead Books for an advanced copy. As always, all opinions are my own.
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