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The Vanishing Half: A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEARNAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR 

“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.
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Street Date:
06/02/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780525536970
ASIN:
B07XNG5L99
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APA Citation (style guide)

Brit Bennett. (2020). The Vanishing Half: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Brit Bennett. 2020. The Vanishing Half: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Brit Bennett. The Vanishing Half: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2020. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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fullDescription

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR 

“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.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from March 2, 2020
        Bennett (The Mothers) explores a Louisiana family’s navigation of race, from the Jim Crow era through the 1980s, in this impressive work. The Vignes twins, Desiree and Stella, were born and raised in Mallard, La., the slave-born founder of which imagined a town with “each generation lighter than the one before.” In the early 1940s, when the twins are little, they witness their father’s lynching, and as they come of age, they harbor ambitions to get out. Desiree, the more headstrong sister, leads Stella to New Orleans when they are 16, and after a few months, the quiet, studious Stella, who once dreamt of enrolling in an HBCU, disappears one night. In 1968, 14 years later, still with no word from Stella, Desiree is back in Mallard with her eight-year-old daughter, Jude, having left her abusive ex-husband. When Jude is older, she makes her own escape from Mallard to attend college in Los Angeles. At a party, Jude glimpses a woman who looks exactly like Desiree—except she couldn’t be, because this woman is white. Eventually, the Vignes twins reunite, reckoning with the decisions that have shaped their lives. Effortlessly switching between the voices of Desiree, Stella, and their daughters, Bennett renders her characters and their struggles with great compassion, and explores the complicated state of mind that Stella finds herself in while passing as white. This prodigious follow-up surpasses Bennett’s formidable debut.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from April 1, 2020
        Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish. The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets--first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the "fidgety twin," and Stella, "a smart, careful girl," make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: "In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far." Desiree's decision seals Jude's misery in this "colorstruck" place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother's doppelg�nger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete--for the twins without each other; for Jude's boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress. Kin "[find] each other's lives inscrutable" in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from April 15, 2020
        In 1968, Desiree Vignes returns to her Louisiana hometown more than a decade after she and her twin sister, Stella, vanished overnight as teens. Her companion for this flight is her young daughter, Jude, with skin so dark it shocks locals. The twins' ancestor, the freed son of an enslaver, founded Mallard, "a town for men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes." Still bruised by the husband she fled, Desiree is in survival mode when the man hired to find her decides to help her find Stella, whom no one has heard from in years, instead. Spanning decades, the story travels to UCLA with teenage Jude, unknowingly nearing Stella's world. Cloistered in her Brentwood subdivision, Stella shares nothing of her early life with her husband and teenage daughter, Kennedy, and fiercely protects the presumed whiteness that became the foundation for her entire, carefully constructed life. Reflecting and refracting her story via the four related women?sisters, cousins, mothers, daughters?at its heart, and with an irresistible narrative voice, Bennett (The Mothers, 2016) writes an intergenerational epic of race and reinvention, love and inheritance, divisions made and crossed, binding trauma, and the ever-present past.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Mothers was a best-selling, award-winning debut, and anticipation for Bennett's second novel has been rising steadily.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 5, 2020

        Is identity something we're born with, or something we choose? This is the overarching theme of Bennett's follow-up to The Mothers. Desiree and Stella are twins born in Mallard, LA, a tiny town populated by light-skinned African Americans. The twins run away to New Orleans as teenagers and eventually take radically different paths. Desiree marries a dark-skinned black lawyer but leaves him and returns to Mallard with their daughter, Jude, who is also much darker than the town approves of. Stella passes for white and marries a successful businessman who knows nothing of her past, eventually relocating to Los Angeles. Years later, Jude (who has a long-term relationship with a transgender man) and Stella's daughter, Kennedy, meet by chance. Near the beginning of the novel, when Desiree enlists a childhood sweetheart, Early, to find Stella, the story feels like it could go in the direction of a thriller like Gone Girl. Instead, the focus shifts to Jude, and readers realize that Bennett is up to something else. VERDICT With large sections focusing on the viewpoints of Desiree, Jude, Stella, and Kennedy in turn, Bennett allows readers' perspectives and sympathies to shift, providing empathy for their difficult choices. [See Prepub Alert, 12/9/19.]--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2020

        After achieving Hopwood and Hurston/Wright honors and debuting big with The Mothers, Bennett here features identical twin sisters, who at age 16 run away from their small, black, 1950s Southern town and take different paths, one passing for white. What's key is the relationship between their daughters.

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES * THE WASHINGTON POST * NPR * PEOPLE * TIME MAGAZINE* VANITY FAIR * GLAMOUR 

“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...

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