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The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

eBook - 2020
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Penguin Putnam




&;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.

Baker & Taylor
Separated by their embrace of different racial identities, two mixed-race identical twins reevaluate their choices as one raises a black daughter in their southern hometown while the other passes for white with a husband who is unaware of her heritage.

Publisher: New York :, Riverhead Books,, 2020
ISBN: 9780525536970
Characteristics: 1 online resource (343 pages)
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks


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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 identiti... Read More »

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Apr 15, 2021

Reading this book as a white passing person of color has been extremely inspiring. It is like mixed people have a switch for how they act around their black families, and then how they act in public towards white people. And when the two sisters in this book choose different identities, it is shocking to readers how different their lives turn out, but it isn't that shocking to American black people today. The country can have at times almost an air of segregation that carries on from the time period in the book. But I really enjoyed how the book describes aspects of happiness in both lives of the sisters; it was touching.

Apr 12, 2021

A really beautiful and moving story of identity and family, and how our choices echo down the years to our children.

Apr 05, 2021

The book was good. I had a few confused moments when unsure what was going on in the story line, like going back to Early and Desiree. I like when authors change font style so you know. I was sad at the end to know that Stella was just gone. Twins not reconnecting. But all in all, a good read. I had to remind myself the era they was in at times.

Mar 30, 2021

An interesting premise. It moves through the decades quite abruptly at times, although with quite a few fascinating characters, I wanted to keep reading to see how they would fare. The resolution seemed unfulfilled for me, but perhaps that was the author's intention.
Very good, but not a 4star book for me because the ending left me feeling unresolved.

Mar 29, 2021

First of all I want to state that this book is compelling reading and the characters are well developed. As timely topics, the novel's two main themes deal with hatred of "others" - those who do not have the same skin color or gender identity. We begin with twin sisters so light in skin tone that they can "pass" as white. One chooses to do so. My first reaction was to condemn her but this book begins in the 1950's and 1960's where the girls' father is murdered because he was Black. Sadly, though the situation in the United States is hopefully better, we have just lived thru 4 years of misogyny, racism, & xenophobia fostered by our own "leader". Today in my home of Minneapolis, the trial of Derek Chauvin has just begun. I cannot and feel no one should judge Stella for her choice. In addition to the racism we have the bias against transgender individuals as Jude, Desiree's daughter, falls in love with Reese who is attempting to save for surgery. In the 1980's this was most often kept a secret as this couple chooses to do. Secrets and lies in families seldom lead to good outcomes. Marriage for both women is unhappy - Stella lives in almost constant fear that her secret will be discovered and Desiree has to flee a violent man. I found Jude to be my favorite character and to have fared the best in the book's world. She strives to make a better life for herself as a "blue-black" woman of color and chooses to love regardless of gender. The ultimate message for me was one of hope. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Mar 25, 2021

Maybe an AARP recommendation?

Mar 22, 2021

This book is about twins-one lives as a black woman, the other, Stella lives as a white woman. The story is very well written. Jude, the black woman's daughter ends up of the U of M in medical school.

Mar 17, 2021

It was a good story, but the characters really never came alive for me, so it was just a so-so read. The sections of years just kind of list what happened. And it just ends rather abruptly with Adele's funeral.

ArapahoeJulieH Mar 16, 2021

This captivating novel spans the period of the 1960s – 1990s. Light skinned identical twin sisters, Desiree, and Stella, flee their rural hometown in Louisiana and become runaways at 16. They become estranged after their lives take different paths, each landing on a different side of the color spectrum. Desiree marries a dark-skinned man and eventually returns home after escaping a violent marriage with her young daughter who is also dark skinned. Stella, who lives her life in CA passing for white, also has a daughter. Fast forward several years and the two cousins eventually meet. Highly recommend this fascinating novel and what it reveals about identity and how it is shaped. Thought provoking and great storytelling!

Mar 13, 2021

This starts out to be the story of twin sisters Desiree and Stella growing up in a small southern town that is under control of Jim Crow rules. They run away to escape the drudgery of the small town. In a short while Stella chooses a "white" life w/o her inseparable twin. Desiree tries to find her own way in life but eventually moves back home. The beginning to me, was the best part of the book. The second section is about the twins daughters, the turns in their lives seems a bit contrived to me, oh well. I certainly appreciate the unfair burden on black people and their struggles to assimilate in the greater society w/ acceptance. Bennett weaves an interesting novel about these struggles, bringing them vividly to life.

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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

Jan 30, 2021

“The only difference between lying and acting was whether your audience was in on it, but it was all a performance just the same.” - p. 13


Add a Summary
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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