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The Vanishing Half

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

A compelling journey though the life-choices of racial identity and the consequences paid.



Desiree and Stella Vignes will always be identical twins, no matter what. They grew up inseparable in the fiction town of Mallard, Louisiana, a small, southern community exclusively founded for light-skinned blacks. At sixteen, the girls ran away from home together to New Orleans, and not long after they separated.

Ten years later, one sister lives with her very-black daughter in the same southern light-skinned town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Yet even though separated by miles and lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?

”She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you”


THE VANISHING HALF is a compelling and skillfully crafted story of identify, secrets and family bonds. Passing has been explored in other novels, but what makes this one unique is the use of twins to compare and contrast the differences between the choices of these two women. It a book that explores how our past shapes our future desires, decisions and expectations.

We also meet the daughters of the twins, one white and one dark which intriguingly adds to the contrast of these life-changing choices. The story, is told from a third person narrator and jumps around in time between the 1950’s and the 1980’s, shifting between Desiree, Stella and their daughters. The novel is delightfully intertwined and layered and there is more than just one person passing in this novel.

Brit Bennett’s writing is taut, clever and satisfying. You will be turning the pages to find out more about these thought-provoking characters and the consequences of their life-changing decisions. In addition to the four main women characters we also meet their mother, husbands and significant others who all form a diverse group, lending tremendous interest to the book.

In June 2020 HBO won a bidding war to adapt THE VANISHING HALF for TV. Congratulations to Brit Bennett who is a thirty year-old author born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Stanford University. She earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her first novel was The Mothers and was published in 2016.

“People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else.”

Publisher Riverhead Books

Published June 2, 2020

Narrated Shayna Small

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