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The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

Large Print - 2020
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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? 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Random House Large Print, [2020].
Edition: First large print edition.
ISBN: 9780593286104
Characteristics: 462 pages (large print) ; 24 cm.
large print


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Book Buzz review

Review of The Vanishing Half in Cascadia Weekly (Wednesday, August 26,2020) by WCLS Collection Services Manager, Lisa Gresham. (more)

From Library Staff

Separated by their embrace of different racial identities, two mixed-race identical twins reevaluate their choices as one raises a black daughter in their southern hometown while the other passes for white with a husband who is unaware of her heritage.

Top Pick! "Centering on two twin light-skinned black girls who grew up in a strange
town in the Jim Crow south, this book explores racism, colorism, sexism, and
familial relationships through the interweaving storylines of vivid and
complicated characters. For fans of Red at the Bone (Woodso... Read More »


Centering on two twin light-skinned black girls who grew up in a strange
town in the Jim Crow south, this book explores racism, colorism, sexism,
and familial relationships through the interweaving storylines of vivid and
complicated characters. For fans of Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.

From the critics

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May 07, 2021

September 9, 2021 selection The Library Book Club

May 06, 2021

I thought the story of the sister who decided to "pass" was interesting but the rest of it was not. I hate it that a person has to give up their whole life and family in order to have a safe life. It is too bad the author switched around so much, we have read hundreds of domestic violence stories, the daughters stories were not interesting at all.
The town where everyone sought to keep gene pool getting lighter and lighter and prejudice within that black community interesting.

May 05, 2021

Brit Bennett has thought up a good plot and developed it very intelligently. Desiree and Stella Vignes are twins growing up in a small town in the deep South. They run away from home as teenagers and that is where the story starts. Desiree marries a colored man has a dark daughter Jude and Stella passes off as a White woman and marries a White man and has a White daughter. The two sisters don't meet at all but their daughters do. Bennett has written a compelling story. However, I was uncomfortable reading about some of the characters. I felt they added nothing to the story.

Apr 29, 2021

I am shocked that readers actually found this book compelling. I almost stopped reading five times but did finish. For me, it was a total waste of time.

Apr 27, 2021

This was a very interesting book to read. It started out on the slow side side but the storyline soon captured my attention.

Apr 27, 2021

This was an enjoyable read about family, secrets, and identity. Highlighted how others perceive you affects how you perceive yourself and vice versa. Never predictable, it was true to real life and had a satisfying ending. Recommend.

Apr 15, 2021

Reading this book as a white passing person of color has been extremely inspiring. It is like mixed people have a switch for how they act around their black families, and then how they act in public towards white people. And when the two sisters in this book choose different identities, it is shocking to readers how different their lives turn out, but it isn't that shocking to American black people today. The country can have at times almost an air of segregation that carries on from the time period in the book. But I really enjoyed how the book describes aspects of happiness in both lives of the sisters; it was touching.

Apr 12, 2021

A really beautiful and moving story of identity and family, and how our choices echo down the years to our children.

Apr 05, 2021

The book was good. I had a few confused moments when unsure what was going on in the story line, like going back to Early and Desiree. I like when authors change font style so you know. I was sad at the end to know that Stella was just gone. Twins not reconnecting. But all in all, a good read. I had to remind myself the era they was in at times.

Mar 30, 2021

An interesting premise. It moves through the decades quite abruptly at times, although with quite a few fascinating characters, I wanted to keep reading to see how they would fare. The resolution seemed unfulfilled for me, but perhaps that was the author's intention.
Very good, but not a 4star book for me because the ending left me feeling unresolved.

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Jan 30, 2021

“Her death hit in waves. Not a flood, but water lapping steadily at her ankles. You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.” - p. 336

Jan 30, 2021

“…an assassination is when someone kills you to make a point.
Which was correct enough,…but only if you were an important man. Important men became martyrs, unimportant ones victims. The important men were televised funerals, public days of mourning. Their deaths inspired the creation of art and the destruction of cities. But important men were killed to make the point that they were unimportant—that they were not even men—and the world continued on.” - pp. 178-179

Jan 30, 2021

“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.” - p.169

Jan 30, 2021

“Skin tissue and muscles and nerves, bone and blood. A body could be labeled but a person couldn’t, and the difference between the two depended on that muscle in your chest. That beloved organ, not sentient, not aware, not feeling, just pumping along, keeping you alive.” - p. 131

Jan 30, 2021

“In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.” - p. 107

Jan 30, 2021

“As they grew, they no longer seemed like one body split in two, but two bodies poured into one, each pulling it her own way.” - p. 36

Jan 30, 2021

“White folks kill you if you want too much, kill you if you want too little.” - p. 35

Jan 30, 2021

“Sometimes who you were came down to the small things.” - p. 22

Jan 30, 2021

“A town always looked different once you'd returned, like a house where all the furniture had shifted three inches. You wouldn't mistake it for a stranger's house but you'd keeping banging your shins on the table corners.” - p.15

Jan 30, 2021

“The only difference between lying and acting was whether your audience was in on it, but it was all a performance just the same.” - p. 13


Add a Summary
Feb 20, 2021

Black twin sisters run away at 16. Ten years later, one twin lives with mother in hometow , other passes for white and living comfortable life. 343 p


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