The popular Vanishing Half: A 2021 Novel outlet online sale

The popular Vanishing Half: A 2021 Novel outlet online sale

The popular Vanishing Half: A 2021 Novel outlet online sale
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#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.

Amazon.com Review

Brit Bennett''s debut novel, The Mothers—about motherhood, female friendship, and finding love with a broken heart—was one of the most talked-about books of 2016. Four years later, Bennett introduces a new cast of characters, and like her debut, The Vanishing Half examines sisterhood, black identity, and parenthood with compassion and conviction. The Vignes twins grew up inseparable in the ’60s in Mallard, Louisiana, a small town reserved for black residents with light skin. Stella and Desiree Vignes are tall and beautiful, and they dream of lives beyond the lynching of their father and housekeeping for white people, like their mother does. When they flee to New Orleans as teenagers, Stella discovers that she can pass as white, and so begins the fracture that will forever separate the twins. Stella disappears in California and continues to play the part of a white woman, keeping her past a secret from her husband and daughter. After leaving her abusive marriage, Desiree returns to Mallard with her daughter, Jude, who is “black as tar.” Jude, desperate to find a place where she fits in, goes to college in California and discovers she was searching not just for herself but for her mother’s sister. Told in flashbacks and alternating points of view, this novel asks what is personal identity, if not your past. A riveting and sympathetic story about the bonds of sisterhood and just how strong they are, even at their weakest. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Book Review

Review

Named a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, USA Today, GQ, Vanity Fair, Harper''s Bazaar, Glamour, and Bustle

Praise for The Vanishing Half

“[Bennett’s] second [book], The Vanishing Half, more than lives up to her early promise. . . more expansive yet also deeper, a multi-generational family saga that tackles prickly issues of racial identity and bigotry and conveys the corrosive effects of secrets and dissembling. It''s also a great read that will transport you out of your current circumstances, whatever they are. . . Like The Mothers, this novel keeps you turning pages not just to find out what happens.” —NPR

“Bennett’s gorgeously written second novel, an ambitious meditation on race and identity, considers the divergent fates of twin sisters, born in the Jim Crow South, after one decides to pass for white. Bennett balances the literary demands of dynamic characterization with the historical and social realities of her subject matter.” The New York Times

“An eloquent new entry to literature on that most vital of subjects, identity,  The Vanishing Half is the novel of the year.” —TIME

“A story of absolute, universal timelessness — a story of what it means to simply be, to grow up and define oneself and reinvent, to negotiate a place in the world. It''s also a deeply American story, rigorously engaged with a country''s racist past and present, while interrogative of its foundational values, like choice and legacy. 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 
 

 “Beautifully written, thought-provoking and immersive… Issues of privilege, inter-generational trauma, the randomness and unfairness of it all, are teased apart in all their complexity, within a story that also touches on universal themes of love, identity and belonging…  The Vanishing Half, with its clever premise and strongly developed characters, is unputdownable and highly recommended.”   Associated Press

“Bennett pulls it off brilliantly… Few novels manage to remain interesting from start to finish, even — maybe especially — the brilliant ones. But… Bennett locks readers in and never lets them go… Stunning…She leaves any weighty parallels — between, for example, racial and gender determinism — to the reader. Her restraint is the novel’s great strength, and it’s tougher than it looks…  The Vanishing Half speaks ultimately of a universal vanishing. It concerns the half of everyone that disappears once we leave home — love or hate the place, love or hate ourselves.”  Los Angeles Times
 
“Provides a meditation on the nuance of race that feels important, now more than ever. It’s the kind of novel that demands to be read — a propulsive, heartfelt work that keeps its reader both glued to the page and chastened by the idea that soon the experience will come to an end. . . You can call  The Vanishing Half an escape, but it’s a meaningful one.” —InStyle

"My hope is that the warranted praise Ms. Bennett receives for this novel will have less to do with her efficient handling of timely, or ''relevant,'' subject matter than for her insights into the mysterious compound of what we call truth: a mixture of the identities we’re born with and those we create." W all Street Journal
 
“Reinvention and erasure are two sides of the same coin. Bennett asks us to consider the meaning of authenticity when we are faced with racism, colorism, sexism and homophobia. What price do we pay to be ourselves? How many of us choose to escape what is expected of us? And what happens to the other side of the equation, the side we leave behind? The Vanishing Half answers all these questions in this exquisite story of love, survival and triumph.” The Washington Post

“A stunning page-turner… It’s a powerful story about family, compassion, identity and roots… You will be thinking about The Vanishing Half long after you turn the final page.”  —Good Morning America

“Brilliant … The Vanishing Half is at once a crowning jewel within that body of work and a standalone achievement that transcends the subject, a deeply human exploration of relationships and one of the most un-put-downable reads of the year."  – GQ
 
“Intricately plotted, exceedingly moving story…with insights into the social and cultural history of passing, while telling what is at heart a tender story about sisterhood, identity and, as Bennett said, ''the endlessly interesting question of which elements in our identity are innate, and which do we choose?''" San Francisco Chronicle

“Nuanced and deeply moving,  The Vanishing Half is an unforgettable meditation on family, privilege, and belonging.” – Esquire 

“The legacy of Toni Morrison looms large in  The Vanishing Half.” – Vox 

“If you’re looking to escape into a fictional story, Bennett brilliantly examines race and identity, family and history, and love and belonging—and it just may make you reflect on the realities of your own.” Forbes

“Breathtaking plot.” People

[ The Vanishing Half] is a dazzling mosaic exploring racism, colorism, and the expectations we place on the ones we love the most.” Marie Claire

"I don''t think I''ve read a book that covers passing in the way that this one does . . epic." — Kiley Reid in O, the Oprah Magazine
 
“Here, in her sensitive, elegant prose, [Bennett] evokes both the strife of racism, and what it does to a person even if they can evade some of its elements.” Vogue

“Bennett creates a striking portrait of racial identity in America.”  TIME
 
 
“Bennett writes like a master, reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Strout.” — BookPage
 
“One of Bennett’s gifts as a writer is this: Her plots entertain you while her characters make you think. In this case, about race, gender, privilege, and the ways an identity can be built, challenged, and rebuilt.” – Goop

“This is sure to be one of 2020’s best and boldest… A tale of family, identity, race, history, and perception, Bennett’s next masterpiece is a triumph of character-driven narrative.” — Elle
 
“A marvel… The Vanishing Half is an intergenerational examination of identity, and what it’s like to grow up in a body you’ve been conditioned to feel ashamed of. It’s a poignant family story that doesn’t shy away from the intersections of race, class, and gender—all while capturing the reader’s heart and mind in a way only Bennett can.” —The Rumpus
 
"Irresistible ... an intergenerational epic of race and reinvention, love and inheritance, divisions made and crossed, binding trauma, and the ever-present past." — Booklist, STARRED Review
 
"Assured and magnetic. . .Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism…calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book''s 50-year-old antecedent. . . .  [a] rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed."— Kirkus, STARRED review
 

"Impressive … This prodigious follow-up surpasses Bennett’s formidable debut."— Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

The Vanishing Half is an utterly mesmerising novel, which gripped me from the first word to the last. It seduces with its literary flair, surprises with its breath-taking plot twists, delights with its psychological insights, and challenges us to consider the corrupting consequences of racism on different communities and individual lives. I absolutely loved this book.”  —Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

“The detail and the feeling showcased in every sentence Brit Bennett writes is breath taking.  The Vanishing Half is a novel that shows just how human emotion, uncertainty and longing can be captured and put on paper.”  —Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie
 

"A novel of immense, shining, powerful  intelligence.”   —Deborah Levy, two-time Booker shortlisted novelist

“An impressive and arresting novel. Perceptive in its insights and poised in execution, this is an important, timely examination of the impact of race on personality, experience and relationships.” — Diana Evans, the Orange Award winning author of Ordinary People
 

The Vanishing Half should mark the induction of Brit Bennett into the small group of likely successors to Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen..”   —Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

About the Author

Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her debut novel, The Mothers, was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for both the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, The Vanishing Half, was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, longlisted for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Women’s Prize, and named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times. Bennet has been named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, a NAACP Image Award Finalist, and one of Time’s Next 100 Influential People. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One

 

The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with his own effort. The barely awake customers clamored around him, ten or so, although more would lie and say that they''d been there too, if only to pretend that this once, they''d witnessed something truly exciting. In that little farm town, nothing surprising ever happened, not since the Vignes twins had disappeared. But that morning in April 1968, on his way to work, Lou spotted Desiree Vignes walking along Partridge Road, carrying a small leather suitcase. She looked exactly the same as when she''d left at sixteen-still light, her skin the color of sand barely wet. Her hipless body reminding him of a branch caught in a strong breeze. She was hurrying, her head bent, and-Lou paused here, a bit of a showman-she was holding the hand of a girl, eight or so, and black as tar.

 

"Blueblack," he said. "Like she flown direct from Africa."

 

Lou''s Egg House splintered into a dozen different conversations. The line cook wondered if it had been Desiree after all, since Lou was turning sixty in May and still too vain to wear his eyeglasses. The waitress said that it had to be-even a blind man could spot a Vignes girl and it certainly couldn''t have been that other one. The diners, abandoning grits and eggs on the counter, didn''t care about that Vignes foolishness-who on earth was the dark child? Could she possibly be Desiree''s?

 

"Well, who else''s could it be?" Lou said. He grabbed a handful of napkins from the dispenser, dabbing his damp forehead.

 

"Maybe it''s an orphan that got took in."

 

"I just don''t see how nothin that black coulda come out Desiree."

 

"Desiree seem like the type to take in no orphan to you?"

 

Of course she didn''t. She was a selfish girl. If they remembered anything about Desiree, it was that and most didn''t recall much more. The twins had been gone fourteen years, nearly as long as anyone had ever known them. Vanished from bed after the Founder''s Day dance, while their mother slept right down the hall. One morning, the twins crowded in front of their bathroom mirror, four identical girls fussing with their hair. The next, the bed was empty, the covers pulled back like any other day, taut when Stella made it, crumpled when Desiree did. The town spent all morning searching for them, calling their names through the woods, wondering stupidly if they had been taken. Their disappearance seemed as sudden as the rapture, all of Mallard the sinners left behind.

 

Naturally, the truth was neither sinister nor mystical; the twins soon surfaced in New Orleans, selfish girls running from responsibility. They wouldn''t stay away long. City living would tire them out. They''d run out of money and gall and come sniffling back to their mother''s porch. But they never returned again. Instead, after a year, the twins scattered, their lives splitting as evenly as their shared egg. Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.

 

Now she was back, Lord knows why. Homesick, maybe. Missing her mother after all those years or wanting to flaunt that dark daughter of hers. In Mallard, nobody married dark. Nobody left either, but Desiree had already done that. Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.

 

In Lou''s Egg House, the crowd dissolved, the line cook snapping on his hairnet, the waitress counting nickels on the table, men in coveralls gulping coffee before heading out to the refinery. Lou leaned against the smudged window, staring out at the road. He ought to call Adele Vignes. Didn''t seem right for her to be ambushed by her own daughter, not after everything she''d already been through. Now Desiree and that dark child. Lord. He reached for the phone.

 

"You think they fixin to stay?" the line cook asked.

 

"Who knows? She sure seem in a hurry though," Lou said. "Wonder what she hurryin to. Look might past me, didn''t wave or nothin."

 

"Uppity. And what reason she got to be uppity?"

 

"Lord," Lou said. "I never seen a child that black before."

 

It was a strange town.

 

Mallard, named after the ring-necked ducks living in the rice fields and marshes. A town that, like any other, was more idea than place. The idea arrived to Alphonse Decuir in 1848, as he stood in the sugarcane fields he''d inherited from the father who''d once owned him. The father now dead, the now-freed son wished to build something on those acres of land that would last for centuries to come. A town for men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes. A third place. His mother, rest her soul, had hated his lightness; when he was a boy, she''d shoved him under the sun, begging him to darken. Maybe that''s what made him first dream of the town. Lightness, like anything inherited at great cost, was a lonely gift. He''d married a mulatto even lighter than himself. She was pregnant then with their first child, and he imagined his children''s children''s children, lighter still, like a cup of coffee steadily diluted with cream. A more perfect Negro. Each generation lighter than the one before.

 

Soon others came. Soon idea and place became inseparable, and Mallard carried throughout the rest of St. Landry Parish. Colored people whispered about it, wondered about it. White people couldn''t believe it even existed. When St. Catherine''s was built in 1938, the diocese sent over a young priest from Dublin who arrived certain that he was lost. Didn''t the bishop tell him that Mallard was a colored town? Well, who were these people walking about? Fair and blonde and redheaded, the darkest ones no swarthier than a Greek? Was this who counted for colored in America, who whites wanted to keep separate? Well, how could they ever tell the difference?

 

By the time the Vignes twins were born, Alphonse Decuir was dead, long gone. But his great-great-great-granddaughters inherited his legacy, whether they wanted to or not. Even Desiree, who complained before every Founder''s Day picnic, who rolled her eyes when the founder was mentioned in school, as if none of that business had anything to do with her. This would stick after the twins disappeared. How Desiree never wanted to be a part of the town that was her birthright. How she felt that you could flick away history like shrugging a hand off your shoulder. You can escape a town, but you cannot escape blood. Somehow, the Vignes twins believed themselves capable of both.

 

And yet, if Alphonse Decuir could have strolled through the town he''d once imagined, he would have been thrilled by the sight of his great-great-great-granddaughters. Twin girls, creamy skin, hazel eyes, wavy hair. He would have marveled at them. For the child to be a little more perfect than the parents. What could be more wonderful than that?

 

The Vignes twins vanished on August 14, 1954, right after the Founder''s Day dance, which, everyone realized later, had been their plan all along. Stella, the clever one, would have predicted that the town would be distracted. Sun-drunk from the long barbecue in the town square, where Willie Lee, the butcher, smoked racks of ribs and brisket and hot links. Then the speech by Mayor Fontenot, Father Cavanaugh blessing the food, the children already fidgety, picking flecks of crispy chicken skin from plates held by praying parents. A long afternoon of celebration while the band played, the night ending in a dance in the school gymnasium, where the grown folks stumbled home after too many cups of Trinity Thierry''s rum punch, the few hours back in that gym pulling them tenderly toward their younger selves.

 

On any other night, Sal Delafosse might have peeked out his window to see two girls walking under moonlight. Adele Vignes would have heard the floorboards creak. Even Lou LeBon, closing down the diner, might have seen the twins through the foggy glass panes. But on Founder''s Day, Lou''s Egg House closed early. Sal, feeling suddenly spry, rocked to sleep with his wife. Adele snored through her cups of rum punch, dreaming of dancing with her husband at homecoming. No one saw the twins sneak out, exactly how they''d intended.

 

The idea hadn''t been Stella''s at all-during that final summer, it was Desiree who''d decided to run away after the picnic. Which should not have been surprising, perhaps. Hadn''t she, for years, told anyone who would listen that she couldn''t wait to leave Mallard? Mostly she''d told Stella, who indulged her with the patience of a girl long used to hearing delusions. To Stella, leaving Mallard seemed as fantastical as flying to China. Technically possible, but that didn''t mean that she could ever imagine herself doing it. But Desiree had always fantasized about life outside of this little farm town. When the twins saw Roman Holiday at the nickel theater in Opelousas, she''d barely been able to hear the dialogue over the other colored kids in the balcony, rowdy and bored, tossing popcorn at the white people sitting below. But she''d pressed against the railing, transfixed, imagining herself gliding above the clouds to some far-off place like Paris or Rome. She''d never even been to New Orleans, only two hours away.

 

"Only thing waitin for you out there is wildness," her mother always said, which of course, only made Desiree want to go even more. The twins knew a girl named Farrah Thibodeaux who, a year ago, had fled to the city and it sounded so simple. How hard could leaving be if Farrah, one year older than they, had done it? Desiree imagined herself escaping into the city and becoming an actress. She''d only starred in one play in her life-Romeo and Juliet in ninth grade-but when she''d taken center stage, she''d felt, for a second, that maybe Mallard wasn''t the dullest town in America. Her classmates cheering for her, Stella receding into the darkness of the gym, Desiree feeling like only herself for once, not a twin, not one half of an incomplete pair. But the next year, she''d lost the role of Viola in Twelfth Night to the mayor''s daughter, after her father had made a last-second donation to the school, and after an evening sulking in the stage wing as Mary Lou Fontenot beamed and waved to the crowd, she told her sister that she could not wait to leave Mallard.

 

"You always say that," Stella said.

 

"Because it''s always true."

 

But it wasn''t, not really. She didn''t hate Mallard as much as she felt trapped by its smallness. She''d trampled the same dirt roads her entire life; she''d carved her initials on the bottom of school desks that her mother had once used, and that her children would someday, feeling her jagged scratching with their fingers. And the school was in the same building it''d always been, all the grades together, so that even moving up to Mallard High hadn''t felt like a progression at all, just a step across the hallway. Maybe she would have been able to endure all this if it weren''t for everyone''s obsession with lightness. Syl Guillory and Jack Richard arguing in the barber shop about whose wife was fairer, or her mother yelling after her to always wear a hat, or people believing ridiculous things, like drinking coffee or eating chocolate while pregnant might turn a baby dark. Her father had been so light that, on a cold morning, she could turn his arm over to see the blue of his veins. But none of that mattered when the white men came for him, so how could she care about lightness after that?

 

She barely remembered him now; it scared her a little. Life before he died seemed like only a story she''d been told. A time when her mother hadn''t risen at dawn to ride buses clean to white people''s houses or taken in extra washing on the weekends, clotheslines zigzagging across their living room. The twins used to love hiding behind the quilts and sheets before Desiree realized how humiliating it was, your home always filled with strangers'' dirty things.

 

"If it was true, then you''d do something about it," Stella said.

 

She was always so practical. On Sunday nights, Stella ironed her clothes for the entire week, unlike Desiree, who rushed around each morning to find a clean dress and finish the homework crushed in the bottom of her book bag. Stella liked school. She''d earned top marks in arithmetic since kindergarten, and during her sophomore year, Mrs. Belton even allowed her to teach a few classes to the younger grades. She''d given Stella a worn calculus textbook from her own Spelman days, and for weeks, Stella lay in bed trying to decipher the odd shapes and long strings of numbers nestled in parentheses. Once, Desiree flipped through the book, but the equations spanned like an ancient language and Stella snatched the book back, as if by looking at it, Desiree had sullied it somehow.

 

Stella wanted to become a schoolteacher at Mallard High someday. But every time Desiree imagined her own future in Mallard, life carrying on forever as it always had, she felt something clawing at her throat. When she mentioned leaving, Stella never wanted to talk about it.

 

"We can''t leave Mama," she always said, and chastened, Desiree fell silent. She''s already lost so much, was the part that never needed to be said.

 

On the last day of tenth grade, their mother came home from work and announced that the twins would not be returning to school in the fall. They''d had enough schooling, she said, easing gingerly onto the couch to rest her feet, and she needed them to work. The twins were sixteen then and stunned, although maybe Stella should have noticed the bills that arrived more frequently, or Desiree should have wondered why, in the past month alone, their mother had sent her to Fontenot''s twice to ask for more credit. Still, the girls stared at each other in silence as their mother unlaced her shoes. Stella looked like she''d been socked in the gut.

 

"But I can work and go to school too," she said. "I''ll find a way-"

 

"You can''t, honey," her mother said. "You gotta be there during the day. You know I wouldn''t do this if I didn''t need to."

 

"I know, but-"

 

"And Nancy Belton got you teachin the class. What more do you need to learn?"

 

She had already found them a job cleaning a house in Opelousas and they would start in the morning. Desiree hated helping her mother clean. Plunging her hands into dirty dishwater, stooping over mops, knowing that someday, her fingers would also grow fat and gnarled from scrubbing white folks'' clothes. But at least there would be no more tests or studying or memorizing, no more listening to lectures, bored to tears. She was an adult now. Finally, life would really begin. But as the twins started dinner, Stella remained silent and glum, rinsing carrots under the sink.

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74,924 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

edbusa
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The story was not centered on the Twin sisters!!!
Reviewed in the United States on June 24, 2020
This is clearly a case off false advertising. I expected the book to convey a story on the dynamics identical twins raised in the racist south. THIS WAS NOT THE CORE OF THE BOOK. Instead it focused on the dynamics of the LGBTQ community. I have absolutely no interest in... See more
This is clearly a case off false advertising. I expected the book to convey a story on the dynamics identical twins raised in the racist south. THIS WAS NOT THE CORE OF THE BOOK. Instead it focused on the dynamics of the LGBTQ community. I have absolutely no interest in such matters. Thoroughly disappointed.
812 people found this helpful
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Daniel S
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Road Not Taken
Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2020
This book is about choices and circumstance. It tells the story of twin girls growing up in the segregated South. They live in a town that is colorstruck inhabited by light skinned black people. Both sisters, in their own way, rebel against the strictures of the town They... See more
This book is about choices and circumstance. It tells the story of twin girls growing up in the segregated South. They live in a town that is colorstruck inhabited by light skinned black people. Both sisters, in their own way, rebel against the strictures of the town They run away as teenagers and wind up rebelling in very different fashions. One sister marries an extremely dark skinned man and has a dark skinned daughter. The other sister passes for white and lives a privileged life. Their stories...and the backstories of their forebears is told over a span of almost forty years, beginning in the 1950s. The novel has an arresting narrative and focuses on the choices people make, the secrets they hold and the consequences that unfold from this dynamic.
650 people found this helpful
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J. Baker
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing. Weak characters. Unanswered plot lines
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2020
The premise of the story about the twins lives got lost in many pages of LGBTQ trans issues. It was like there was not enough going on with the sisters lives, the author felt it necessary to throw this red herring into the story. And I don’t say plot because it was not part... See more
The premise of the story about the twins lives got lost in many pages of LGBTQ trans issues. It was like there was not enough going on with the sisters lives, the author felt it necessary to throw this red herring into the story. And I don’t say plot because it was not part of the plot. I was very intrigued about the lives of the sisters, but I got no satisfaction of what made them what they were. They just moved from one day to the next like they could not take charge of their lives. They each suffered a malaise that was similarly experienced but the author was too lazy to explore it. Ending was unsatisfying and abrupt.
562 people found this helpful
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Georgia D.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best book I’ve read in a long time.
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2020
I agree with reviews I have read. This is a must read. I couldn’t put it down. I hope there are many more books to follow. What a talented writer. I have to go take a nap. I missed a whole night of sleep. I highly recommend this book.
360 people found this helpful
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amachinist
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Less is More
Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2020
The premise of this book is both very timely and fascinating: How do both blacks and whites perceive shades of black? The story begins in Mallard, Louisiana, a town founded by a light-skinned black man for light skinned blacks. The expectation is that as these... See more
The premise of this book is both very timely and fascinating: How do both blacks and whites perceive shades of black? The story begins in Mallard, Louisiana, a town founded by a light-skinned black man for light skinned blacks. The expectation is that as these light-skinned blacks live together and breed together, their offspring would become lighter and lighter in skin tone with each ensuing generation. This is certainly true of the founders great-great granddaughters, identical twins Stella and Desiree Vignes. After seeing the brutal murder of their father, the girls run away to New Orleans at the age of sixteen. The girls separate. One marries a coal-black man and has a dark-skinned daughter. She leaves her abusive husband and returns to Mallard where her daughter is marginalized due to her skin color. The other sister passes herself off as white, marries her white boss and they produce a blond, blue-eyed daughter.

The complications of race and color are muddied as the author introduces interactions of the second generation of daughters. Suddenly LGBTQ issues and characters enter into the plot. From here the storyline deteriorates. Does the author really feel she needs to tackle all the hot, trendy issues? The plot and dialogues become predictable and uninteresting. What would have been a fascinating study of race and interracial tensions, dissipates. How disappointing!
260 people found this helpful
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kathleen g
5.0 out of 5 stars
wonderful
Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2020
Absolutely wonderful exploration of race, identity, lies, and familial love. Desiree and Stella were born in the town of Mallard- a town where everyone is part black and the whiter they are the better. Desiree is restless, though, and persuades Stella to run away with... See more
Absolutely wonderful exploration of race, identity, lies, and familial love. Desiree and Stella were born in the town of Mallard- a town where everyone is part black and the whiter they are the better. Desiree is restless, though, and persuades Stella to run away with her when they are 16, not realizing what she has set in motion. She returns with her very dark daughter Jude while Stella vanishes into a new life where she passes for white, so much so that no one, not her husband, not her very blonde daughter Kennedy know until.....It''s the story of Jude and Kennedy and also of Early and Reese (and his friends), the very good men in these women''s lives. And their father, who is seen only in vignette but whose death Stella dreams about over and over. Ranging through the years and across the US, it''s told from third person perspective of each woman and her daughter. I was captivated by this, not only because of the characters, but also because of the writing. There are some gorgeous passages that make you see the touch of Desiree''s hand on Early''s neck or the pool where Stella sips gin in the morning. Thanks to edelweiss for the ARC. One of the best of the year and well deserving of the praise it has received. Highly recommend.
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Leonard B.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
All over the place.
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2020
The premise was supposed to be about two sisters who led different lives based upon the color of skin that they presented them selves as to communities they lived in, but it goes astray with stories of their offspring. I don''t think that the five star reviewers read all... See more
The premise was supposed to be about two sisters who led different lives based upon the color of skin that they presented them selves as to communities they lived in, but it goes astray with stories of their offspring. I don''t think that the five star reviewers read all the way through to get enough insight. I''m sorry I didn''t read the 1 and 2 star reviews before buying the book, I would have saved my money for better stories.
186 people found this helpful
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C. Pate
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
White Sister
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2020
Excellent read. Being light and darn near white myself I related to the story and enjoyed being a captured audience. Ms Bennett holds the reader and makes you eager to find out what will happen next. Her characters are complex, interesting and very... See more
Excellent read. Being light and darn near white myself I related to the story and enjoyed being a captured audience.

Ms Bennett holds the reader and makes you eager to find out what will happen next. Her characters are complex, interesting and very real.

One can see that she researched the material right down to the family and town names that were used.

Thank you for an entertaining and well written story.
180 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A beautiful, brilliantly written novel. An absolute MUST-read, right now.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 4, 2020
I moved work meetings around to read this book, I truly could not put it down. Every great novel should force you out of your comfort zone, introduce you to new worlds and make you pause to think and assess. The Vanishing Half manages this, it feels, with ease. Brit Bennett...See more
I moved work meetings around to read this book, I truly could not put it down. Every great novel should force you out of your comfort zone, introduce you to new worlds and make you pause to think and assess. The Vanishing Half manages this, it feels, with ease. Brit Bennett achieved this with The Mothers too (which I also loved and is a MUST-read), but here the cast, the setting and the timeline are even more expansive. Thus the skill on display, even more impressive. This is a novel that weaves the themes of history, memory and identity. It encourages us to put aside simplified notions of racial dynamics, and as a mixed-race woman, I found myself deeply interrogating my own thoughts, beliefs and experiences. This is not, though, only a novel about race and it would be disingenuous to believe so. This is a journey through family ties, belonging and loss; of individuals, couples, communities. Seamlessly bringing together these myriad threads is the sign of a masterful writer. Brit writes with unpretentious flair, in a way that envelopes you softly, almost as though you''re hearing your mum telling you the story as her mum told it to her. No word is wasted, no sentence is filler, no dialogue is superfluous. Everything serves its purpose exquisitely and is imbibed with feeling. This novel spans the full emotional spectrum, it brought me moments of sadness, anger, and tender delight, all of which I am truly grateful for. I needed this novel right now - and I believe many of us do. Please, do not hesitate to purchase this book.
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Ralph Blumenau
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Problems of racial and gender identity
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2020
The first three quarters of the book are excellent. They tell of the lives of twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, who were born in the fictional Louisiana town of Mallard, where the population of African-Americans were all light-skinned and looked down on dark skinned people....See more
The first three quarters of the book are excellent. They tell of the lives of twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, who were born in the fictional Louisiana town of Mallard, where the population of African-Americans were all light-skinned and looked down on dark skinned people. This had not prevented whites from a neighbouring town from lynching their father for an imagined racial transgression. In 1964 Desiree and Stella ran way to St Louis. But they soon went their separate ways. Stella, traumatized by having seen her father lynched, had decided to pass as white. She had taken a job in St Louis. Her employer, a wealthy white banker called Blake Sanders had taken a liking to her, and she to him; and when he was moved to Boston and asked her to go with him, she had agreed, and had simply walked out on Desiree without telling her where she had gone. There she married him and bore him a white daughter, Kennedy. Neither Blake nor Kennedy knew that she was not white. Later they moved to Los Angeles. For years Stella had no contact with Desiree. She was always terrified that she would be found out, and avoided any contact with black people. The exception was her friendship for a while with Loretta Walker, a black woman who lived in the house opposite hers; but this ended when Kennedy, playing with Loretta’s daughter Cindy, made a racist comment to Cindy. Desiree had gone to Washington D.C, and married a black man, Sam Winston, and bore him a black daughter, Jude. But Sam was violent towards Desiree, and she and Jude left him and returned to Mallard in 1968. In 1982 Jude was living in Los Angeles with Reese Carter, a transgender man with whom, sharing his bed, she has an affaire of sorts, and with Barry, who performs as a drag queen twice a month. Reese and Barry, like Stella, were passing for something they were not. One day, Jude thought she had seen Stella, the lookalike of her mother; and she also met Kennedy. Kennedy had become a rebel, had dropped out school, and against her mother’s wishes, had taken up acting in a crummy play in a crummy theatre. Jude took a job as a dogsbody at the theatre in order to see more of her cousin and in the hope of meeting Stella. On the last night of the show she did meet Stella, and introduced herself to her as Desiree’s daughter. Stella froze, then walked away. Angrily, Jude told Kennedy that their mothers were twins, and that Stella had been lying to Kennedy all her life. The secret was out: Stella knew she had been rumbled, and Kennedy knew the truth. I found the remaining quarter of the book, dealing in part with the consequences of this situation, very confusing. Hence only three stars, when so much of the book deserves five.
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read-along-with-sue
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
So well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 8, 2020
4.75* What an amazing journey I’ve been on. Not sightseeing, more like “eye opening” moments. The Vanishing Half will not only enthrall you it will enlighten you. Twins. One skin colour lighter than the the other. Living in a small village named Mallard. Based around 1950’s...See more
4.75* What an amazing journey I’ve been on. Not sightseeing, more like “eye opening” moments. The Vanishing Half will not only enthrall you it will enlighten you. Twins. One skin colour lighter than the the other. Living in a small village named Mallard. Based around 1950’s and spanning down to 1990’s. Just why did these identical twins get split up when running away? What made them run? How did one twins life take a course so far in type to their peer? One sister living a totally black persons life while the other “passing” for white and whites privilegies. There is racism, there is hate. The sisters had their school life halted due to a difference in everyday life, they’re mama needed them to work, to bring in money. Running took the sisters on totally different paths. One having different relationships and experiences. The other marrying a white man who thought he had married a white woman. Both these sisters went on to have a daughter of their own. There are lots and lots of moments in this story I’d like to share, but, I’d prefer you to experience them whilst reading this book yourself. I remember the times when cemeteries were split. Deceased white people on one part of the land and black diseased on the other. The upkeep of the graves were done on the white side, but not the black. It touches on history here. But the reunion of the sisters I would have loved more emotional, and to see what happened if here husband learnt of the truth or not that she was indeed black. I’d love a book 2 on this. Following through the next generation. I’ve not read The Mothers by this author but I’m looking straight at it on my bookshelf so I’m definitely going to be reading that before 2020 has ended.
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Lindsey
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amazing Storyteller
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2020
Mallard is a strange town ''more idea than place''. This is reinforced as a place so small that it can''t be found on an atlas though characters might try. The concept of Mallard was created as a place for people ''who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated...See more
Mallard is a strange town ''more idea than place''. This is reinforced as a place so small that it can''t be found on an atlas though characters might try. The concept of Mallard was created as a place for people ''who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes.'' This alternate third pathway extends the concept that Nella Larsen considers in her novella, Passing. ⁣ ⁣ The real tests of the world come after Stella and Desiree Vignes run away at 16. New Orleans serves as the crossroads of the twins choosing different paths-Stella to a white world and Desiree doubling down by finding an even darker partner. ⁣ ⁣ The next generation is where the impacts of race, colorism, and identity are really explored. The consequences of the twins'' actions are lived out over the coming years; the story touches to Mallard, Los Angeles, and New York weaving the race reality all across the US. ⁣ The characters truly shine amongst this seeming sociological experiment regarding the effect race can have on lifestyle. Bennett has crafted all these women to be truly imperfect, nuanced characters that you become invested in especially for me, the subsequent generation. ⁣ ⁣ This novel is timely and as instructive as any non-fiction both on the power of race regards and colorism but also identity and how we socially construct that. This should be required reading for any young adult up through the elder stages of life.⁣ ⁣ I will undoubtedly be revisiting this book time and time again. I already adore and am going to be pushing everyone I know and love to buy it, borrow from the library and share it.
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P. G. Harris
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Vanishing End
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 2, 2021
For me the Vanishing Half divides into the parts. The first section I found quite difficult to engage with. Then, for most of the book, I found it to be a ripping, if somewhat soapy, yarn. The end I found irritatingly post modern. Yes I know loose ends don’t all get tied up...See more
For me the Vanishing Half divides into the parts. The first section I found quite difficult to engage with. Then, for most of the book, I found it to be a ripping, if somewhat soapy, yarn. The end I found irritatingly post modern. Yes I know loose ends don’t all get tied up in real life, but this is sadly one of those books which rather peter out, with several of the main characters left hanging in mid air. The story is that of twins, Stella and Desiree, who grow up in the African American town of Mallard where lightness of skin is prized to such an extent that the inhabitants have bred themselves to the point where some are close to indistinguishable from Caucasians. The first section deals with the girls’ escape from Mallard to New Orleans and Desiree’s return without Stella, but with shockingly dark daughter, Jude. I found this section a bit stodgy, a bit whiny in tone. The book takes off in the second section as time jumps forward to Jude’s departure for UCLA and her hooking up with the transgender Reece. Their friend Barry is in a musical, in which the leading actress is spoiled rich white girl, Kennedy, whose mother is called Stella.... The main themes of the book are unsurprisingly about race, identity and prejudice, viewed from several angles. There is the racism, from both Caucasians and light-skinned African Americans experienced by Jude growing up. There is Reece’s gender identity. Not least there is the racism from Kennedy’s affluent Caucasian community when an African American family moves into the neighbourhood. The relationship between her mother and that family is one of the most interesting parts of the book. There also seemed to me to be something fantastical about the book, with the author almost suggesting that this is a fairy story. I may be reading too much into this, but this thought comes from the oft repeated idea that Mallard doesn’t appear on any map. I really enjoyed the book once I got past the beginning, but was then disappointed by the end. At least two major characters, Stella and Jude, seem to be at major junctions in their lives, but nothing is resolved. I know that this reflects real life, and it is possible for a book to end too tidily, with too many loose ends tied up, but the Vanishing Half disappointingly goes too far the other way, and rather peters out.
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