The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett,

Book cover of The Vanishing Half

Book description

THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP BESTSELLER
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE

'An utterly mesmerising novel..I absolutely loved this book' Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019

'Epic' Kiley Reid, O, The Oprah Magazine

'Favourite book [of the] year' Issa Rae…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

9 authors picked The Vanishing Half as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The biracial Vigne twins in this book struggle with the choices before them as to which race they will embrace. I loved the book for its poignancy and honest exploration of the sensitivity involved in having a choice to make, no matter the generation.

This book is similar to the movie Imitation of Life but on a grander scale. The stories moved me and hurt me at the same time. 

This spellbinding book is a multi-generational, fictional account that spans five decades and focuses on identical twins and their daughters. 

I found the novel to be believable and evocative of (1) the challenges that light and dark-skinned African Americans have faced in different eras, and (2) the strength needed in being true to one’s sexuality while surviving the realities of bigotry and persecution. The author deftly interweaves various plots, themes, and subthemes, into a story that immediately draws you in and keeps you reading, long past hours when you should be sleeping. 

You will laugh, lament, and—most importantly—understand the significance…

The Vanishing Half masterfully illustrates that how, when, and to-what-degree we let go of the past are sacred choices that each individual must make for themself.

Brit Bennett’s beautiful writing brings her characters and their worlds to such vivid life that you feel like you’re there. I grew up in a small Texas town, close to the Louisiana border, so the setting spoke dearly to me. But the story is told through a lens that is very different from my own experience. 

One of the elements that can make a story feel amazing is its ability to help us…

The Birthright of Sons: Stories

By Jefferey Spivey,

Book cover of The Birthright of Sons: Stories

Jefferey Spivey Author Of The Birthright of Sons: Stories

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader of queer literary fiction not only because I write it but because I’m looking to see my life experience captured on the page. As a gay man, a father of two young boys, and one-half of an interracial married couple, I know the complexity of modern queer living firsthand. In recent years, I’ve been astounded by the breadth of great LGBTQ+ books that examine queerness fully and empathetically. I seek out these books, I read them feverishly, and I become a champion for the best ones. In an era of intense book banning, it’s so important to me to elevate these books and their authors.

Jefferey's book list on capturing the complexity of the queer experience

What is my book about?

The Birthright of Sons is a collection of stories centered around the experiences of marginalized people, namely Black and LGBTQ+ men. Although the stories borrow elements from various genres (horror, suspense, romance, magical realism, etc.), they are linked by an exploration of identity and the ways personhood is shaped through interactions with the people, places, and belief systems around us.

In each of these stories, the protagonists grapple with their understanding of who they are, who and how they love, and what is ultimately most important to them. In almost every case, however, the quest to know or protect oneself is challenged by an external force, resulting in violence, crisis, or confusion, among other outcomes.

The Birthright of Sons: Stories

By Jefferey Spivey,

What is this book about?

The Birthright of Sons is a collection of stories centered around the experiences of marginalized people, namely Black and LGBTQ+ men. Though the stories borrow elements from various genres (horror, suspense, romance, magical realism, etc.), they're linked by an exploration of identity and the ways personhood is shaped through interactions with the people, places, and belief systems around us.

Underpinning the project is a core belief - self-definition is fluid, but conflict arises because society often fails to keep pace with personal evolution. In each of these stories, the protagonists grapple with their understanding of who they are, who and…


I loved this contemporary southern novel about twin sisters from small-town Louisiana. 

Beautifully written and tightly plotted, Bennett explores identity and family bonds through the unraveling mystery of one sister’s disappearance and the new life she assumed. In addition to racial and sexual identity, Bennett tackles the strong pull of the South. Despite characters leaving home and moving thousands of miles away, they can never escape their Southern origin stories.  

From Audrey's list on strong Southern women.

Bennet’s style of storytelling warmed my heart from the first paragraph. Her prose tickles the reader’s brain and soul as she explores themes common to humanity, regardless of people’s origins.

This book helped me understand human motivation and how people from the same parentage and household can have such different perspectives about who they are and the world. The book also demonstrates the human need for love and grace.

From Xolani's list on a deep understanding of human nature.

Absolutely amazing. One of my top reads for 2020 and I was in awe of how rich the characters and plot were in this novel.

The book is based on twins and ultimately about choices and how they can trap you, no matter how promising the outcome may seem in your head. The plot twists were beautifully paced and definitely took the reader on a remarkable journey.

From Callie's list on the power (and danger) of love.

This novel blew me away because it captured the challenges of biracial people so beautifully.

It shows two different strategies that twin daughters employ to cope with the pervasive racism they encounter—one living as Black, one fleeing her family to pass as white—and embody real-life choices that thousands of light-skinned Black people confront.

Beautifully written, the novel furthers the complexities by inserting another tale of passing into the story: a woman passing as male, for greater occupational opportunities.

Brilliant book, rightfully celebrated!

This is one of the most unusual and memorable books about sisters I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Black twins, Desiree and Stella, who are separated in early adulthood in the 1950s, one returning to her hometown in the South after escaping an abusive marriage, the other passing as White in the White world she’s chosen to inhabit. The choices Desiree and Stella make that cause their paths to diverge haunt the sisters, each in her own way. But what never changes is the deep bond that exists between them even in absentia. I loved this book. Read it,…

The twin sisters in The Vanishing Half share nearly everything and nearly nothing, which is a neat trick. They share a past – same childhood, same family, same upbringing, same community, same home, the same face even – and yet grow into adults who share none of the above nor even the same racial identity, never mind class, values, family, or future.

Want books like The Vanishing Half?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like The Vanishing Half.

Browse books like The Vanishing Half

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in African Americans, multiracial people, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about African Americans, multiracial people, and presidential biography.

African Americans Explore 726 books about African Americans
Multiracial People Explore 69 books about multiracial people
Presidential Biography Explore 18 books about presidential biography