First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Twins, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two different worlds: one black and one white.
The Vignes sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything, including their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. Across the country, the other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, although separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations, from Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, The Vanishing Half is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of race, gender, and identity, and the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s desires and expectations.
I spent my October reading books listed in the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, books that are essentially considered as classics in the world of literature. Truth be told, these books have slapped hard which was to be expected considering that they belong to an esteemed group of literary masterpieces.
Perhaps to balance the equation or correct the imbalance, I returned to more contemporary works in November. The books I have read so far were all published in the past two years, with Etaf Rum’s A Woman is No Man being the “oldest” in the list. Currently, I am reading Brit Bennett’s second novel, The Vanishing Half. I kept reading a lot of positive feedback on the back that it didn’t take that much to convince me to buy my own copy.
In a year that has been so far more contemporary (reading-wise) compared to my previous reading years, The Vanishing Half is my 15th new book this year. A “new” book is defined as books read and published in the same year. A self-confessed backlist reader, this is a milestone and with a couple more days before the year ends, it does look like I am going to extend this personal record.
The Vanishing Half relates the story of identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes. They were born and raised in the Deep Southern town of Mallard, a place that “cannot be found on the map”. When they were old enough, their mother asked them to stop studying and help her in earning a living. When they turned sixteen, they ran away from home, fleeing to New Orleans.
I haven’t made that much progress into the book yet. About a third into the book, Bennett is laying the groundworks for the narrative. I begin to understand the flak she got for the slow pace at the start of the novel. However, this slow burn also helped build an anticipation within me. At the same time, I am hoping that the story picks up the pace. Nevertheless, I am curious as to the fate that befell Stella. I have been reading about Desiree and her daughter Jude, so far.
I can feel that a reunion is brewing on the horizon. Now, I am interested on how this reunion will take place and how it will happen. Will emotions flow? Will the gap years be reconciled? It leaves so much room for questions. And I can’t wait to uncover the answers to these questions. As I am slowly regaining badly lost momentum, I think I might be able to finish the book over the weekend.
How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!