The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

( ) The Vanishing Half tells a back-in-time story of two female twins that grew up in the small town of Mallard. Mallard is known for its culture of valuing paleness above all else in its solely black population. The twins are no different, as they could easily pass for caucasian if they so chose to.

In fact, that’s what one twin does. She drops all known associations with her friends and family without a warning or explanation; all to play the role of a white career-woman, followed by wife and mother. There is past trauma that may have instigated this extreme action. She successfully keeps this secret along with that trauma hidden from both her past and future family. However, time has a way of unraveling hidden truths, and her daughter eventually makes associations that lead them back to her mother’s past in Mallard.

This novel is powerful because it shows the stark contrast between the underprivileged black experience with the overprivileged white experience. Also, it touches on the life-altering effect that trauma can have on a child as they grow into adulthood. Further, the power of labels shows its intensity here, as these twins simply identified as one label versus the other and were thereby accepted as such despite the truth.

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