Date Published: June 2, 2020

The Vanishing Half: Summary

Prepare to be swept into the twins' kaleidoscopic world where blood ties unravel and identities melt away in "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett. From the town of Mallard, Louisiana, a place brimming with its own peculiar lore of light-skinned African Americans, a tale of two inseparable twins takes flight. However, the twist in the tale is their choice to live on opposite sides of the color line. Stella and Desiree Vignes, bound by birth yet parted by destiny, chart the course of this riveting narrative. Their skin color is as mutable as a chameleon's—Black yet white-passing.

This compelling narrative is a many-layered exploration of race, color, and identity. After fleeing Mallard at sixteen, the sisters' lives diverge dramatically. Desiree returns years later, arms wrapped around her daughter of darkest night complexion. Yet, Stella vanishes into the whiteness, her past wiped clean like a blackboard. The story spans four decades, unspooling secrets, and revealing the twins' tangled lives through the eyes of their daughters—Jude, a determined medical student, and Kennedy, a soap opera actress unknowing of her heritage.

"The Vanishing Half" is a poignant saga, a mirror reflecting America's complex racial tapestry, exposing the contours of privilege, colorism, and the enduring quest for self-definition. It will pull you into its vortex, one page at a time.

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The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

Date Published: June 2, 2020

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The Vanishing Half: Genres

Literary Fiction
Historical Fiction
African American Literature
Family Saga

The Vanishing Half: Main Characters

Desiree Vignes: An individual who embraces her identity despite its challenges, marking her life with an enduring sense of courage, shown when she returns to Mallard after enduring an abusive marriage.

Stella Vignes: Desiree’s twin sister, who chooses to pass as white, reflecting her pursuit of freedom from societal restrictions and the loneliness that accompanies her denial of her past, evident in her isolated life in the white suburbs.

Jude Winston: Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, strong and relentless in her pursuit of truth, a trait she exhibits when she uncovers the reality of her mother’s past.

Kennedy Sanders: Stella’s daughter, living in ignorance of her mother’s truth, embodies the theme of self-discovery, a journey she embarks on as she unravels her mother’s secret.

The Vanishing Half: Themes

Racial Identity: The book explores the dichotomy of racial identity, demonstrated through Stella’s transition into whiteness and Desiree’s steadfast acceptance of her blackness.

Colorism: The theme is prevalent in the discrimination Jude faces for her dark skin even within the Black community, underscoring the prejudice stemming from different shades of skin color.

Family Ties: Despite the twins’ divergent paths, their bond is reaffirmed through their reunion, illustrating the indelible ties of family.

Self-Definition: Stella’s continual unease in her white persona and Kennedy’s dissatisfaction with her life highlight the constant quest for self-definition and authenticity.

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