The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
F R I D A Y F A V O U R I T E
For me, like so many, The Vanishing Half was a stand out book of last year. I love a good multi-generational family saga and this is a superb one. At the core are twins, Desiree and Stella Vignes, who are born and raised in Mallard, Louisiana. Mallard is a place so tiny, you won’t find it on a map — and it’s also the place where, as children, the twins bore witness to the fate of their father, after which they were never the same again.
Both sisters grow up and run away from their hometown, but then one sister leaves the other and ends up passing for white, in an affluent white neighbourhood and raising her family there. Her family have no idea of her past. They have no idea that she is black.
I was totally transfixed by the story — two twins, so close but underneath, so much unspoken tension. Two girls rocked by the death of their dad, which shaped their feelings on family, culture and racial identity. I was fascinated by the characters — I felt my own feelings bound up in those of the twins and the challenges they both faced — and was completely gripped by the phenomenon of ‘passing’, which I’d only heard of in the most basic sense prior to reading.
Like any sweeping family saga, you will be kept absorbed across the generations of the Vignes family. And, the points where the different generations collide will have you shaken to the core.