Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennet
Genre: Literary/historical fiction
Length: 343 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Content: domestic abuse, lynching, colorism
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. Ten 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?
I do not often read literary fiction or family dramas, but I am so glad I read this book. This book is about light-skinned identical twins Stella and Desiree who go their separate ways when one decides to turn her back on her past and live life passing as a white woman, but it is about so much more than that. The beautiful writing poignantly addresses issues of race, identity, gender, sexuality, family, destiny, and the consequences of choices while following multiple generations of Vignes women through various stages of their lives.
While the book frequently switched narrators and jumped in time, I never felt lost in the story. I did, however, wish that the book was a bit longer and dug a little deeper into certain characters. I felt like I did not get to know all of the POV characters equally. The second half of the book focused extensively on Stella’s and Desiree’s daughters, but I think there was more to explore with the twins.