Book cover for "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett

Seattle Reads, the “one book, one city” program started by The Seattle Public Library in 1998, announced its book selection for 2021: “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett.

Published in 2020 by The New York Times-bestselling author of “The Mothers,” “The Vanishing Half” is a stunning novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds — one Black and one white.

“Bennett’s vivid and lyrical writing, examination of identity and exploration of how the past shapes the present make ‘The Vanishing Half’ a must-read,” said Stesha Brandon, Literature & Humanities program manager for The Seattle Public Library.

Bennett will visit Seattle from Oct. 5-6, 2021. Look for more details on Seattle Reads programs later this year at


The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern Black community and running away at age 16, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her Black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, “The Vanishing Half” considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut “The Mothers,” Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.


Born and raised in Southern California, Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel. She is one of the National Book Foundation's 2016 5 Under 35 honorees.


Patrons can place a hold right now in the Library’s catalog, or request a Peak Picks copy at Curbside Service locations. Limited copies of "The Vanishing Half" will be available for informal borrowing (meaning you don’t need to check out the copies) starting in June 2021. They will be available first come, first served at Curbside Service locations.


Seattle Reads is a city-wide book group, where people are encouraged to read and discuss the same book. It’s designed to deepen engagement in literature through reading and discussion. Everyone is invited to participate in Seattle Reads by reading the featured book, joining in a book discussion, and/or attending programs with the featured writer.

Seattle Reads’ “The Vanishing Half” is made possible by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and The Wallace Foundation, with additional support from media sponsor The Seattle Times, and Riverhead Books.

For more information, visit, call the Library at 206-386-4636 or Ask Us.