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The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

A Novel

eBook - 2020
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“Bennett’s tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it’s especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye.” —Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal 

A story of absolute, universal timelessness …For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be….” – Entertainment Weekly

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.
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


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From the critics

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Jul 23, 2021

I came into this story as both a reader as with all of us, and something else. Being multiracial, it has given my thoughts and feelings towards the story an interesting new perspective. Not being quite all one, or the other, it's been very intriguing to read this book. It's brought a light as to why sometimes mixed race people such as myself have been given a cold shoulder at best in interacting with one half or more,or our heritage. Though I do not believe or condone later generations to demean or be hurtful due to how some mixed race people behaved long ago, I and many others still acknowledge hurt and pain caused through others,through history.) Britt is such a talent at writing these characters who are complex ,many layered. True, there are many emotions felt through out the story.It was definitely a page turner of a book.

Jun 30, 2021

I just picked up this book. I am new to the site and I think I'd booked it twice. I do not need another copy. Sorry. I'm learning as we go along

Jun 20, 2021

i was disappointed as i read this book. i wanted more meat, more serious exploration of the issues touched on. everything felt just that: touched on but not delved into. i didn't care about any of the characters except early; he was the most complex and compelling. as i recall, there was only one moment when something reached me: desiree telling stella about white people smearing their guilt onto blacks. if i liked the book more, i'd go back and look for that passage.

Jun 16, 2021

I could relate to some of the challenges of the kids being mean. I grew up in south Louisiana so some of the biases covred were true. Teh graddaughter being dark - probably not qite accurate. Overall, I enjoyed the book.

LPL_MaryW Jun 13, 2021

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.

Jun 12, 2021

Super interesting! It's about two black sisters who can pass off as white. They run away from their town one day to New Orleans, and one sister (Stella) eventually abandons the other as lives her life as a white woman, marrying rich. But she has to hide this secret constantly. It's infuriating on one hand but also understandable - you can tell how much she misses her family but she's unwilling to give up her current comfort for them. I wouldn't reread since I already know what happens but it was interesting to see what would happen.

May 26, 2021

NYT 2020 Top 10

May 14, 2021

This book put life in perspective for me. Too often, I find myself not putting myself in other peoples shoes. This story is not a linear plot, climax and ending. This story speaks on each individual and their own Vanishing Half. It's not only about the twins, Desiree and Stella. This book dives deep into trans lives, black lives, the lives of families in poverty and the lives of the rich. Each chapter provides a deeper meaning to the title. At times it was hard to see past the lack of a storyline, but the mystery of where Stella was was worth every second. This book made me hyperaware of the people around me and all the stories untold. We are not only what one sees on the outside. This book finds the beauty of being alive with our traumas and we all, very differently, process and live with them. A work of art.

May 07, 2021

September 9, 2021 selection The Library Book Club

May 06, 2021

I thought the story of the sister who decided to "pass" was interesting but the rest of it was not. I hate it that a person has to give up their whole life and family in order to have a safe life. It is too bad the author switched around so much, we have read hundreds of domestic violence stories, the daughters stories were not interesting at all.
The town where everyone sought to keep gene pool getting lighter and lighter and prejudice within that black community interesting.

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ArapahoeMaryA Jun 15, 2021

In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.

Jan 30, 2021

“Her death hit in waves. Not a flood, but water lapping steadily at her ankles. You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.” - p. 336

Jan 30, 2021

“…an assassination is when someone kills you to make a point.
Which was correct enough,…but only if you were an important man. Important men became martyrs, unimportant ones victims. The important men were televised funerals, public days of mourning. Their deaths inspired the creation of art and the destruction of cities. But important men were killed to make the point that they were unimportant—that they were not even men—and the world continued on.” - pp. 178-179

Jan 30, 2021

“She hadn't realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.” - p.169

Jan 30, 2021

“Skin tissue and muscles and nerves, bone and blood. A body could be labeled but a person couldn’t, and the difference between the two depended on that muscle in your chest. That beloved organ, not sentient, not aware, not feeling, just pumping along, keeping you alive.” - p. 131

Jan 30, 2021

“In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.” - p. 107

Jan 30, 2021

“As they grew, they no longer seemed like one body split in two, but two bodies poured into one, each pulling it her own way.” - p. 36

Jan 30, 2021

“White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” - p. 35

Jan 30, 2021

“Sometimes who you were came down to the small things.” - p. 22

Jan 30, 2021

“A town always looked different once you'd returned, like a house where all the furniture had shifted three inches. You wouldn't mistake it for a stranger's house but you'd keeping banging your shins on the table corners.” - p.15

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Feb 20, 2021

Black twin sisters run away at 16. Ten years later, one twin lives with mother in hometow , other passes for white and living comfortable life. 343 p


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