• The Vanishing Half

  • A GMA Book Club Pick (A Novel)
  • By: Brit Bennett
  • Narrated by: Shayna Small
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (25,511 ratings)

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The Vanishing Half

By: Brit Bennett
Narrated by: Shayna Small
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Interview: Brit Bennett discusses ‘The Vanishing Half’ with Audible Editor Margaret

''I think I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write this book about sisters…''
  • The Vanishing Half
  • ''I think I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write this book about sisters…''

Publisher's summary

Number one New York Times best seller

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of the Year

Named a Best Book of 2020 by The New York Times * The Washington Post * NPR * People * Time Magazine * Vanity Fair * Glamour

“Bennett’s tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it’s especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye.” (Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal)

A story of absolute, universal timelessness.... For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be.” (Entertainment Weekly)

From The New York Times best-selling author of The Mothers, 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 16, 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. Many 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' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times best-selling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing pause resister about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate, and wise.

©2020 Brit Bennett (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"[Bennett’s] fiction is filled with very simple truths that are extremely wise." (Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal)

"Not to be missed." (Harper’s Bazaar)

"Here, in her sensitive, elegant prose, [Bennett] evokes both the strife of racism, and what it does to a person even if they can evade some of its elements." (Vogue)

Featured Article: Must-Hear Contemporary Black Women Authors

It’s a fact that a high percentage of the best books that have come out in this century have been written by Black women authors. (Truth be told, there are so many excellent works that this list could simply centered on the best contemporary authors and still be accurate.) Nevertheless, Black women’s stories deserve to be heard, and when the stories are this compelling, this engaging, and this beautifully written, they’re impossible to ignore.

Editor's Pick

Disappearing acts
"The idea of ''passing,'' that is, when a Black person with light skin ''passes'' for White has always intrigued me. As a kid, I endured many family movie nights watching the 1959-film adaption of Imitation of Life. That iconic scene—when the White ''passing'' daughter of the Black protagonist throws herself on her mother's coffin, therefore publicly revealing her true identity—has always haunted me. The Vanishing Half is just as affecting. Brit Bennett’s provocative portrait of ''passing'' in the post-civil rights era follows identical twin sisters who choose to live in two very different worlds, one Black and one White. I interviewed Bennett recently, and it’s no coincidence she also grew up watching Imitation of Life. Listen to our conversation here."—Margaret H., Audible Editor