"The Vignes Twins vanished on August 14,1954, right after the Founder's Day dance, which everyone realized later, had been their plan all along."
The Vanishing Half is a bittersweet look into the lives of twin sisters and how they deal with separation, betrayal, abuse, and a changing world. The sisters deal with the oppressive weight of being black in a time where lynchings were still commonplace as children, where light skin is seen as preferential and passing for white is as taboo as it is desirable.
Stella and Desiree Vignes want nothing more than to get out of their small town where a lighter skin tone in your children is a familial aspiration. In the small town of Mallard, they feel destined to live the lives of their parents by marrying light skinned boys and having even lighter skinned children. On the night of a town-wide celebration they take advantage of everyone's distraction and at sixteen, they steal away in the night to New Orleans, where their stories diverge for the first time.
“I don’t think I’ve read a book that covers passing in the way that this one does . . epic.” —Kiley Reid in O, the Oprah Magazine
Stella chooses to pack up, leave everything she has ever known behind, and pass for white. Desiree meets, falls in love with a dark skin man, and has a dark-skinned daughter. Jude - Desiree’s daughter, and Kennedy – Stella’s daughter, meet in California by happenstance and we follow their stories through school, their relationships (to each other and others) and their rich inner lives.
The Vanishing Half shines in it’s depictions of everyday life and the ripples that occur in the lives of those connected to the twins. The story spans 40 years of the twins lives, and you’ll be kept on the edge of your seat wondering if they will come together again.
I enjoyed this title because it allows the characters to live their lives as they are – conflict, happiness and all. There are moments of unbridled joy that are not sullied by an immediate negative experience. While there are negatives in everyone’s past, the characters move forward and work for a better life without succumbing to a general despair. I left the reading of this story feeling hopeful for the future.
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.
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