What makes a five star read for you? For me it is characters I can get so emotionally involved with that their thoughts become my thoughts, their feelings my feelings, their hopes, their dreams, their tears or laughter resonating in my own soul. I may never have picked up this book had it not been for bookstagram and recommendations from other bookish friends, and how grat a loss that would have been, because it spoke to my heart as only few books can.
Desiree and Stella Vignes are identical twins born in 1938 in Mallard, a small town in Louisiana not found on any conventional map. Their fair appearance, like most of Mallard’s residents, may hide their negroe heritage and yet they are part of the black community with all the restrictions imposed on them at the time. The girls’ own father died at the hands of white men, a trauma both girls witnessed and have never forgotten. When they are forced to leave school at sixteen to supplement the family’s income, their hopes for a better future are brutally crushed – until the girls run away from home to start a new life in New Orleans.
Years later, the sisters have lost contact with each other. Desiree will return to her hometown with her young daughter in tow, on the run from her violent husband. Whilst Stella has married a rich white man who knows nothing of her past. It is their daughters who will ultimately have to discover their roots and the key to their identify.
THE VANISHING HALF was a wonderful book, the sort that comes around rarely, with characters that utterly captivated my heart and consumed my thoughts long after I had turned the last page. Exploring topics such as family, identity and the price of starting a new life far away from home, the book took me on an emotional roller coaster ride as few stories can. Each and every character was well rounded, believable and so “real”. Split into several parts, the book went on from the twins’ lives to explore their legacy to their daughters, and the way their decisions ultimately shaped their children’s lives. It was heart-wrenching, thought provoking and extremely emotional, to the point where I had tears running down my face as I suffered each character’s pain.
THE VANISHING HALF would make a perfect book club choice, because once you turn the last page you will feel like talking about it with someone. But either way, I urge you to read it – it definitely was one of my favourite reads this year. Highly recommended!