The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. It is a deeply moving novel that spans decades and is about four main characters, twin sisters and their daughters. The twin sisters are black, but both so light skinned they could pass for white in the racially divided United States in the 1950’s. One twin stays in their hometown and works at a diner. The other twin decides to pretend to be a white woman, leaves her sister behind, and eventually marries well and lives in a wealthy neighborhood in California. Their daughters' lives begin to intertwine, and the two cousins couldn’t be more different. If you read this and cannot wait to find something similar, keep on reading!
If you enjoyed the aspect of someone black pretending to be white, try Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. Helen Oyeyemi is a master storyteller, and brings in aspects of magical realism. A white woman marries a black man who is white-passing, as is his whole family. The wife only finds out the family secret when she has a child who is black. The husbands’ family urges her to send her away to an aunt on their side who is too dark to be white-passing. The wife decides to keep her child, but sends away the white-passing step daughter. This story covers race, abuse and connection.
If you want to explore more about the deep connection of twins, Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon has our main character, Autumn, on a desperate search for her twin sister, Summer, who recently disappeared. Autumn begins dating Summer’s boyfriend as a way to cope. She pretends to be fine, but she is suffering as she tries her best to solve the mystery.
If you enjoyed the backdrop of New Orleans and how one choice can lead to two very different lives in The Vanishing Half, try A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton. Evelyn is a Creole woman whose family lives a high-society life. Evelyn must choose between a poor man she loves, and living a life of privilege. The decision she makes during the times of Jim Crow will affect Eveleyn’s daughter Jackie, and Jackie’s son T.C.
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