The Vanishing Half

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize 2021

    • 4.0 • 243 Ratings
    • $14.99
    • $14.99

Publisher Description

THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP BESTSELLER
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE

'An utterly mesmerising novel..I absolutely loved this book' Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019

'Epic' Kiley Reid, O, The Oprah Magazine

'Favourite book [of the] year' Issa Rae

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' story lines 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.

GENRE
Fiction & Literature
RELEASED
2020
2 June
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
352
Pages
PUBLISHER
Little, Brown Book Group
SELLER
Hachette Australia Pty Ltd
SIZE
2.1
MB

Customer Reviews

Moorey333 ,

Loved it!

Still thinking about it…. So many different aspects and emotions in this book. Beautiful told.

Cerrarna ,

LAYERS

So many layers can’t wait to see HBO make it into a mini series!!

rhitc ,

Half and half

Author
African-American. Born and raised in So-Cal. Graduate of Stanford and the MFA program at University of Michigan. Short fiction published in all the right places. Her debut novel, The Mothers (2016), was a bildungsroman about three young black people raised in a Christian community. I gave it four stars.

Premise
Light skinned African-Americans have better lives if they "pass" as white. Or do they?

Themes
Race, poverty, domestic abuse, gender

Plot
Desiree and Stella are twins raised in a small community called Mallard in rural Louisiana, where everyone's light-skinned. Mallard is so small it doesn't appear on maps. When the gals turn 16 (in the late 1950s) and their Mom pulls them out of school and sends them to work as housemaids for rich white folk, they do a runner in the middle of the night to The Big Easy (New Orleans) two hours away. From there, their paths diverge, as implied by the premise. Stella takes off with her white boss. Desiree marries the blackest black man she can find in Washington DC (an FBI agent) and has a daughter who takes after Dad colour-wise. Dad's is also a wife beater, so in the late 60s (soon after MLK's assassination), Desiree goes back home to Momma. Her daughter Jude is "blue-black" and fits in poorly in light skinned Mallard. She wins an athletic scholarship to UCLA where she discovers crossdressers and stumbles upon her "white" cousin. Stuff happens. Family reconciliation of sorts is achieved.

Narrative
Four part first person (the twins and their two daughters) alternating. Flashbacks as required within each narrative. Sounds messy when I write it down but in Ms Bennett's hands, it works like a dream.

Prose
Crisp, clear, artfully constructed. As good as it gets. The Mothers showed promise. This is the real deal.

Characters
The portrayal of the protagonists and several of the supporting cast is nothing short of magnificent.

Bottom line
Character driven contemporary fiction doesn't get better than this.

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