The Vanishing Half: A Novel

The Vanishing Half: A Novel

by Brit Bennett (Author)


“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.

In Brit Bennett's "The Vanishing Half," we are introduced to the Vignes twins, Desiree and Stella, who grow up in a small, Southern town in the 1950s. Due to their light skin and straight hair, they can pass as white, and eventually, Stella makes the decision to leave their oppressive town and live a life of freedom in the North. Desiree chooses to stay in the South, marry a dark-skinned man, and raise a family. As the years go by, their lives diverge dramatically, yet they remain connected by an unbreakable bond of sisterhood.

Bennett's novel explores the complex themes of race, identity, and family in America. She delves into the ways in which race and appearance can shape our lives and our relationships with others. Through the experiences of Desiree and Stella, we see the challenges and triumphs of living in a racially divided society.

"The Vanishing Half" is a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it. Bennett's characters are fully realized and relatable, and her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. This is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary fiction, race relations, or family dynamics.

Here are some of the key themes explored in "The Vanishing Half":

  • Race and Identity: The novel explores the complex and ever-changing nature of race and identity in America. The Vignes twins, Desiree and Stella, are both born with light skin and straight hair, which allows them to pass as white. However, they choose to live very different lives, with Desiree choosing to stay in the South and Stella choosing to pass as white in the North. Their experiences highlight the ways in which race and appearance can shape our lives and our relationships with others.
  • Family and Sisterhood: Despite their very different life choices, Desiree and Stella remain connected by an unbreakable bond of sisterhood. They love and support each other, even when they don't agree with each other's choices. Their relationship is a testament to the power of family and the importance of staying connected with those we love, even when we grow apart.
  • The Legacy of Racism: The novel also explores the legacy of racism in America and the ways in which it continues to affect the lives of African Americans today. Through the experiences of Desiree and Stella, we see the challenges and triumphs of living in a racially divided society. We also see the ways in which racism can damage families and communities.


352 pages