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. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?
The Vanishing Half is a very unique and unusual story. We meet the Vignes twins who are from a strange town that very few people have heard of. The ethos of this town is a little bizarre and opened my eyes to other elements of racism that I didn’t know existed. We are given an upsetting and eye opening insight into how embedded racism is in our system and our psyche. Not only are there many white people out there who firmly believe that being white is better, but we are shown that there are also communities of black people who endeavour to be more light skinned. Some go so far that eventually through generations, their descendants can seamlessly blend in with white society and escape from the trials and tribulations that their race have had to endure for so long.
The Vignes sisters struggle to find their place in the world and we are quickly thrust into a journey of self discovery that will lead both sisters down very different paths. It isn’t until a few decades later that their lives cross over due to the most unlikely of circumstances. This book highlights the importance of self identity and finding one's place in the world and the challenges and extreme loneliness people can endure whilst on this journey. It really makes you think about even the most basic of things that we did as teenagers wanting to be accepted by our peers and even as we get older and more experienced in life, the pressures and biases that we succumb to for acceptance. This story is on quite an extreme level of soul finding and identity searching but I thought it really awoke different emotions on what it means to accept oneself.
The Vanishing Half is a story that prompts the reader to question who they are, where they belong and the lengths they would go to for acceptance. It starts off a little slow but then develops into an extremely strong story that will stay with you for a long time.
I look forward to reading more from Bennett as I found her style of writing hugely immersive and you get to know the characters on a very deep and personal level.
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'She hadn't realised how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.'
Jude, such a strong character and someone to really look up to. I loved her values and how she chose to live her life and come to terms with certain challenges that she had to face.