Arts & Leisure

Book review: The Vanishing Half — by Brit Bennett

(Riverhead Books)
From the very first page, Brit Bennett will pull you in; she is such an impressive storyteller. The story begins in the town of Mallard, a small southern black community, where everyone knows the Vignes girls, twin sisters Desiree, the restless one and Stella, the studious one. When their mother makes them quit school at sixteen to clean houses with her, Stella starts to find Desiree’s ideas of running away from Mallard much more compelling. We first meet Desiree when folks in town spot her returning home, on the run from an abusive husband, and now a mother herself, to young Jude, a child, they crudely whisper, is a sight to behold in this self-circumscribed “colorstruck” town. As it turns out, the sisters, identical and inseparable as children, now inhabit two very different worlds, one black and one white. Will their paths ever cross again? This is an absorbing and emotional account of family bonds that navigates and explores the complicated ramifications of what is referred to as “passing” and what results when you separate yourself from family and friends, or even your own true self. This is a truly engaging and enjoyable reading experience, perhaps even more assured than Bennett’s New York Times-bestselling debut, The Mothers.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of the Vermont Book Shop
 

Book Buzz Summer 2020
 
All Adults Here, by Emma Straub
Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Burning, by Megha Majumdar
Utopia Avenue, by David Mitchell
Sex and Vanity, by Kevin Kwan
Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner
Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Friends and Strangers, by J. Courtney Sullivan
The Pull of the Stars, by Emma Donoghue  

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