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A Must-Read: “The Vanishing Half”

A Must-Read: “The Vanishing Half”

February 4, 2021

In June 2020, acclaimed author Brit Bennett released her highly anticipated second novel, The Vanishing Half, and it did not disappoint!

Debuting at number one on the New York Times bestsellers list, the story follows Stella and Desiree Vignes, identical twins living in 1950s Louisiana. Their home is in the small fictional town of Mallard, whose residents are all light-skinned African American individuals. Although the surrounding towns know this is a Black community, the people of the town are careful to only marry others who are as light skinned as themselves. Stella and Desiree are no exception, being so fair skinned that they could pass as white.

At 16, after witnessing their father’s brutal murder, the twins flee to New Orleans to start a new life together. Shaken by these events, their bond breaks, and the girls begin to lead two very different lives.

Abandoning Desiree in New Orleans, Stella opts to pass herself off as white, burying her life as a locked secret, marrying a white man, and living well. Desiree chooses instead to embrace her heritage, returning to Mallard with her daughter.  

A complexly woven multi-generational story, the narrative extends into the lives of Stella’s and Desiree’s daughters. A thought-provoking, layered novel, The Vanishing Half explores identity, class, wealth, relationships, race, colorism, and so much more. Bennett’s writing is beautiful and captivating, drawing you into the lives of her richly detailed and distinct characters. This novel is a must-read!

Lisa P.
Information and Reader Services Department

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