Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennet
Genre: Black and African American literary fiction
Books like this one are always on my radar, but I don’t make them a priority to get to. I’m just so stuck in my horror/dystopian/thriller genres of choice that I don’t always get to literary fiction like I mean to. But I’ve been doing better about putting these kinds of books on hold and then reading them once the library sends them to my kindle. And I am so thankful I did. What an amazing book!
From Goodreads: 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 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.
This book was really character-driven, and said characters were just perfect. The twins, Stella and Desiree, are so different from each other, and their lives diverge so much. Stella, passing as white, never seems happy, always looking over her shoulder, expecting her truth to be revealed. The story is told in chunks of time, not only about the twins, but also their children. Jude is Desiree’s daughter Kennedy is Stella’s. Jude is also trying to escape her past and figure out who she is. Kennedy is doing the same but for many different reasons. Don’t get me wrong; there is a plot, of course. But these women jump right off the page and take control. I couldn’t get enough of their stories and understand why everyone raves about this book.