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.
The Vanishing Half might end up being my favorite book of 2021, and it was the first book I finished. It's going to give every other book a run for its money.
There are so many different storylines, and there is so much depth to each character. It was amazing to me how flawlessly they were all weaved together. Each chapter was another thread in the beautiful quilt that the end product turned out to be.
The sisters were interesting, themselves. But the story got even better once their daughters grew up.
You spend most of the book kind of wanting to slap Stella, but her difficult character really explains the trauma she went through as a child and the trauma that Black Americans have when they cannot pass for white as she was able to. It's very complicated and hit many different emotional spots.
This is a fantastic book that lays out growing up Black in the American South. It also touches on the LGBTQIA+ community which I wasn't expecting.
The Vanishing Half is a book that tackles trauma and pain in an extraordinarily gracious way.
5/5 Stars. I absolutely recommend this one.
Memorable Quotes: "She told her the truth, of course — that an assassination is when someone kills you to make a point.
Which was correct enough, Stella supposed, but only is you were an important man. Important men became martyrs, unimportant ones victims. The important men were given televised funerals, public days of mourning. Their deaths inspired the creation of art and the destruction of cities. But unimportant men were killed to make the point that they were unimportant —that they were not even men—and the world continued on."
"Like leaving, the hardest part of returning was deciding to."
"That was the thing about death. Only the specifics hurt. Death, in a general sense, was background noise."
"You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same."