The Vanishing Half
A NoveleBook - 2020
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR
2021 WOMEN'S PRIZE FINALIST
“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.
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From the critics
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In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.
“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
“…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
“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
“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
“In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.” - p. 107
“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
“White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” - p. 35
“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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