In 1954, the Vignes twins, Stella and Desiree, leave their hometown of Mallard, Louisiana, in the Jim Crow South, which was founded in 1848 by their great, great, great grandfather, a former slave, who envisioned a place where those who were light-skinned would stay together and continue to marry others who were light-skinned so their children would have a better life. The sisters, who were traumatized by the worst form of hatred while young, wanted more in life than helping their mother clean the homes of white people. They escape to New Orleans together but split apart. In 1968, Desiree leaves her abusive husband and returns to Mallard with her daughter Jade who, to the horror of the town, is dark-skinned. Stella has left her sister and decides to pass herself off as white. She marries a wealthy white man and has a daughter named Kennedy. Stella tells everyone that she has no family. While in California, Jade encounters Stella and Kennedy and figures out the connection. Can Jade bring the family together or is it too late? Is Stella’s lie going to finally be uncovered? The emotional journey of this family is one you’ll want to take.
The Vanishing Half is a well written and well told, emotional story. I was fully engaged in the struggles of the twin sisters and their children as they dealt with racial identify, racism, class division and sexuality. The author made you feel Desiree’s desperate longing for her lost twin sister and Stella’s anguish in being trapped in a life that was not her own but of her own making.
Many thanks to Edelweiss and Riverhead Books / Penguin Publishing for an advance copy.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: June 2, 2020.
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