How would you handle your twin completely disappearing? Personally, I don’t really know but this was the case in The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Twin Sisters, Stella and Desiree, run away from their colorist hometown, Mallard, in hopes of better lives. They end up in New Orleans but after some time end up parting ways. By parting ways I mean Stella ran off after choosing to pass for white, leaving her sister behind to figure things out for herself. The story that unfolds is interesting to say the least.
Here we have one sister who made the decision to live her life as a white woman and the other who did the complete opposite. Was either sister better off? Financially… sure but the actual cost of her decision was more than I think she was ever prepared for. As life goes, each sister went on to live their individual lives complete with husbands and children. Desiree ended up back in Mallard, except instead of returning with her twin she returns with her chocolate brown skinned daughter much to the shock of her mother. Stella went on to have a daughter of her own who she raised as white and kept her true identity hidden from for years.
For a better part of the first half of the book I kept turning the page questioning what happened to Stella. I became incredibly invested in Stella’s story line because I was wondering how long she’d be able to keep up her charade. Then as the book progressed and her daughter got older and began to question things, I was intrigued by the constantly growing wedge between the mother and daughter. It's truly amazing how intuition can tell you when someone is keeping something from you and the impact that can have on a relationship.
Desiree’s life was much simpler but her daughter’s life became more and more interesting as each chapter passed. Watching Jude interact with her cousin who had no idea about the whole situation was a wild thing to read about. I was constantly holding my breath waiting for her to spill the secret.
I really don’t want to give away too much about this book but I will say that I was pulled in from the beginning and the deeper I got the more it became an absolute page turner. The story of these sisters and their daughters is an interesting one and it’s mind blowing reading about the lengths one would go to have more opportunities in life. (not a judgement, just an observation) I can’t say I really agree with Stella’s decision to pass but I do understand it. My only critique is the ending of the story. It wasn’t as satisfying as I think it could have been. I would have loved a more complete ending and more of an update about Stella and Kennedy's relationship.
Anyway, this is a good read. I’d definitely suggest checking it out.