Book Notes: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Reading Time: 20 minutes

Book Cover: The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

PublisherRiverhead Books (2020)

ISBN-13 :978-0525536291


Quick Thoughts

I enjoyed The Vanishing Half (2020) by Brit Bennett. I’m still not certain what the title itself refers to. Does the vanishing half refer to Desiree, the half of Stella that she leaves behind? Or does it refer to the half of Stella’s history and heritage that she leaves behind when she decides to pass as white? Is it the black half of Stella that vanishes? Is it both? Is it something else?

I enjoyed the insight into Stella’s life passing as a white woman. She achieves her dream of escaping into the life of suffering and tragedy due to her race. But it comes at the cost of distancing her from her own life – from her husband and daughter.

I wish the author could have spent more time with Desiree. We spend more time with Stella, and learn about her thoughts and experiences. But we don’t get to spend nearly as much time with Desiree, the twin who returns to their hometown. I would have liked to learn more about Desiree’s time in Mallard, and how she adjusted to living there after running away as a teenager. How does she feel working as a waitress after having lived a more sophisticated life in Washington, DC?

How does Desiree feel about the dissipation of her childhood dreams? How does she reconcile staying in Mallard for so long when her daughter is obviously ostracized and isolated due to her skin color? Is it fear? Is she waiting for Stella to come back? The novel doesn’t spend as much time reflecting on Desiree as I would’ve liked.

There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I felt the ending was a little rushed. We don’t get to see what happens to Stella and Kennedy’s relationship after she comes clean with her daughter. We never fully get to see what happens to the twin’s brief reconciliation. But, overall, it’s an interesting story about the divergent paths of two different women who make very different choices.


A story about a pair of light-skinned identical twins: one passes as white; the other remains Black. On August 14, 1954, sixteen year old African American twins, Stella and Desiree Vignes, run away from their small, southern, and black hometown of Mallard, Louisiana. Their hometown, Mallard, is composed almost entirely of light-skinned Black people who privilege their proximity to whiteness. Light-skinned blacks are seen as more valuable and worthy. Dark-skinned blacks are few and far between, and those who remain face discrimination from the lighter skinned blacks.

As children, the twins witness their father being lynched and killed by a mob of white men. His death changes the trajectory of their lives and sends the family into poverty. After their mother forces them to drop out of high school to earn a living and contribute to their household, the twins decide to run away from home.

Once they leave, Stella abandons her twin, breaks ties with her family and chooses to live her life permanently as a white woman. Stella marries a wealthy white man who is unaware of her racial heritage, and has a  daughter, Kennedy, who is blond and violet-eyed. Desiree marries an African-American man, has a very dark-skinned daughter, Jude, and eventually returns to their hometown in order to flee her abusive marriage.

Years later, the lives of the twins’ two daughters intersect in Los Angeles, and we begin to explore the consequences of the twins’ decisions on the lives of their children.


Desiree Vignes

She’s the younger (by 7 minutes) twin. The twins are described as extremely light-skinned, enough to pass for white. She and her twin sister Stella run away from their small town hometown of Mallard at 16 years old. Desiree settles in Washington DC, where she marries Sam Winston, a dark-skinned lawyer and has a daughter with him. He physically abuses her, and after 14 years, Desiree runs away from him and returns to Mallard with her daughter. She remains there for decades until the death of her mother. She works as a waitress at Lou’s Diner for decades, eventually taking over most of the managerial work at the diner. After Adele’s death, Desire and Early leave Mallard and move to Houston, Texas.

Stella Vignes

Stella is the older (by 7 minutes) twin. She is also the more quiet, intellectual twin. After running away from Mallard, she and Desiree settle in New Orleans. Stella then abandons her twin and decides to pass as a white woman. She marries Blake Sanders, a white man, moves away to Boston, and they have a daughter, Kennedy. Stella never reveals the truth to Blake, although Kennedy does eventually find out (but agrees to keep her mother’s secret). She never returns to Mallard, except once, shortly before Adele’s death. Despite having had to drop out of high school to work as a child, in mid-life, Stella eventually attains a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, and teaches Introduction to Statistics at Santa Monica College as an adjunct professor.

Adele Vignes

Adele is the mother of the twins. She is described as light-skinned enough to pass for white. She is related to the founders of Mallard. She is married to Leon Vignes. After her husband’s death, she goes to work cleaning houses and taking in laundry. Years after running away from home, Desiree returns home to Mallard to stay with her mother, Adele. She and Adele raise Jude together.  She later develops Alzheimers.

Jude Winston

Jude is the dark-skinned daughter of Desiree and Sam Winston. She grows up in Mallard, where she is ostracized due to her dark skin.  She is in a relationship with Reese Carter, a transgender man. She becomes a medical student.

Kennedy Sanders

She is the blond,  violet-eyed daughter of Stella and Blake Sanders. She grows up believing Stella is white, and that she herself is also white.  She is flighty, precocious, and spoiled. She drops out of University of Southern California to pursue an acting career. She has brief success acting in a soap opera. After her acting career dries up in her early thirties, Kennedy begins to sell real estate.

Early Jones

A bounty hunter, he grew up sharecropping on farms in Janesville and Jena. As a young child, his parents have too many children, and so Early is given to his aunt and uncle who have none. He is hired by Sam Winston to track down Desiree, his runaway wife. Early falls in love with Desiree, and misleads Sam about his ability to find her. Desiree and Early have a long-term relationship, and he raises Jude as his daughter.

Reese Carter

Originally born a girl, Therese Anne Carter in El Dorado, Arkansas. Therese Anne passes as an African-American man, and is known as Jude’s boyfriend and partner. He is described as golden-brown and handsome. He is interested in photography.

Blake Sanders

Stella’s white husband. A wealthy, Yale-educated banker’s son from Boston.  At age 28, he meets Stella when she is hired as his secretary at Maison Blanche, a department store where he works in the marketing department. He’s described as handsome, with ruffled blond hair and blueish-gray eyes. He is never told about Stella’s African American heritage, and he believes he married a white woman. He and Stella have a daughter together, Kennedy.

Loretta Walker

An African-American woman who moves along with her famous actor husband, Reginald Walker, into the all-white Palace Estates, the newest subdivision in Brentwood. She lives across the street from Stella and Blake Sanders. Stella is initially her friend, while also expressing racist behavior towards her to gain favor with the white residents. Stella eventually turns against Loretta, and spreads vicious rumours about Reginald which leads to the Walkers being harassed out of the neighborhood.


A friend of Reese’s who cross-dresses as Bianca, a drag singer, at a gay club on weekends. He also works as a high school chemistry teacher.

Sam Winston

Desiree’s estranged husband, and Jude’s father. He is described as jet-black in color. He was born and raised in the projects of Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Washington DC to work as a prosecutor.

Leon Vignes

The deceased father of the twins. He worked as a repairman, and wanted to be a woodworker.  He is lynched twice by a mob of five white men, the first time in front of the twins. An illiterate, light-skinned native of Mallard, he is falsely accused of writing a love letter to a white woman. He is beaten and shot four times by the mob. Three days later, while recovering in the hospital, the same mob breaks into his hospital room, and shoots him twice in the head.


Things aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface. The Vanishing Half explores this statement using the lens of race to explore the construction of identity. What does it mean to be white? If a person pretends to be white, and is accepted as such, then what do the standard definitions of race actually mean?

Is it possible to become what one pretends to be, if you’re never found out, and if one pretends long enough? If society treats you as white, do you become white? What is your true identity?

Stella successfully pretends to be white. Reese successfully presents as male. What does this mean for our social constructions of race and gender? Do they become irrelevant or more meaningful?

In making the choice to pass for white, Stella gains everything she ever wanted: education, wealth, privilege, and power. But it comes at a price. What does a person lose in the process of becoming? Stella loses her birth family, but she gains a new one. She loses her mother, her twin, her past, and her hometown. But she gains a husband and a child, and a more prosperous standard of living. But, her relationship with her daughter is strained, she cannot reveal her heritage to her own husband, and she is never fully at ease with her own life due to fear about discovery.

Perhaps being black in the first place was also a choice. Are you black when society treats you as black? Are you white because society treats you as white?  Perhaps, what could be chosen could also be unchosen.  “But what had changed about her? Nothing, really. She hadn’t adopted a disguise or even a new name. She’d walked in a colored girl and left a white one. She had become white only because everyone thought she was.”  (161)

Reese is a secondary character who also mirrors this theme of passing. Initially born a girl, he decides to live as a man. In doing so, he must also sever the ties of family, blood, and past, and begin anew, in a new place. He gains a new identity, but it also comes at a price.

Nonetheless, Reese serves as a foil to Stella. Reese must run away in order to be truly himself. His partner, Jude, is fully aware of who Reese is, and encourages him to be himself. Meanwhile, Stella leaves her past behind, and is never fully at ease in her life as a white woman. Blake, her husband, never gets to share in this part of his wife’s heritage, and Stella’s relationship with her daughter is strained due to her secrets and lies. Reese is freed by running away, while Stella is imprisoned by the same act.

Similarly, Stella’s daughter, Kennedy, presents as white. She is raised believing herself to be white. Her father, Blake, is white. After Jude reveals the truth of Stella’s identity to Kennedy, Kennedy struggles to reconcile her outward presentation with her racial history. Is she also black, is she white? Both? Neither? Would she be able to authentically claim blackness, if she even wanted to?

“You couldn’t go through your whole life not knowing something so fundamental about yourself. She would feel it somehow. She would see it in the faces of other blacks, some sort of connection. But she felt nothing.”  (233)

Kennedy lives a transient and flighty life, and her passion for acting is presented as a mirror image (or perhaps a subconscious reaction to) of her mother’s successful performance of whiteness.

Identity is also an important theme throughout The Vanishing Half. Stella and Desiree are identical twins. Despite being identical, they have different personalities. Stella is the more studious, intellectual, quiet twin. Desire is the more outgoing, extroverted twin. Nonetheless, they spend their childhood always being referred to as “the twins”, and are often treated as separate halves of the same person.

Other times it felt like living with a foreigner. Why are you not more like me? she’d think, glancing over at Desiree. How did I become me and you become you? Maybe she was only quiet because Desiree was not. Maybe they’d spent their lives together modulating each other, making up for what the other lacked.”  (199)

The Vanishing Half suggests that identity isn’t necessarily something you’re born with.  In certain cases, it’s something that you can create, either consciously or unconsciously. Identity can be constructed; it can be a choice.



  • Lightness, like anything inherited at great cost, was a lonely gift. He’d married a mulatto even lighter than himself. She was pregnant then with their first child, and he imagined his children’s children’s children, lighter still, like a cup of coffee steadily diluted with cream. A more perfect Negro. Each generation lighter than the one before. (6)
  • THEY CALLED HER TAR BABY. Midnight. Darky. Mudpie. Said, Smile, we can’t see you. Said, You so dark you blend into the chalkboard. (73)
  • They made up lots of jokes, and once, well into her forties, she would recite a litany of them at a dinner party in San Francisco. She was amazed by how well she remembered. At that party, she forced herself to laugh, even though she’d found nothing funny at the time. The jokes were true. She was black. Blueblack. No, so black she looked purple. Black as coffee, asphalt, outer space, black as the beginning and the end of the world. (73)


  • She’d always been a great liar. The only difference between lying and acting was whether your audience was in on it, but it was all a performance just the same. Stella never wanted to switch places. She was always certain that they would get caught, but lying—or acting—was only possible if you committed fully. (13)
  • You could find just about anybody if you were good at lying, he told her. Half of hunting was pretending to be somebody else, (71)
  • In Blake’s mind, her life before him had been tragic, her whole family swallowed up. She preferred him to think of her that way. Blank. A curtain hung between her past and present and she could never peek behind it. Who knows what might scuttle through? pg. 130
  • Like anything, lying to her daughter became easier over time. She was raising Kennedy to lie too, although the girl would never know it. She was white; she would never think of herself as anything else. If she ever learned the truth, she would hate her mother for deceiving her. pg. 149
  • But sometimes lying was an act of love. Stella had spent too long lying to tell the truth now, or maybe, there was nothing left to reveal. Maybe this was who she had become. pg. 221
  • She could tell the truth, she thought, but there was no single truth anymore. She’d lived a life split between two women—each real, each a lie. pg. 223
  • She could never be completely honest with her husband, but somehow, standing in the airport, she couldn’t bring herself to lie to her daughter again. pg. 278


  • Barry went to faculty meetings and family reunions and church, Bianca always lingering on the edge of his mind. She had her role to play and Barry had his. You could live a life this way, split. As long as you knew who was in charge. (112)
  • In the morning, during her ride to Maison Blanche, she closed her eyes and slowly became her. She imagined another life, another past. (160)
  • She let her mind go blank, her whole life vanishing, until she became new and clean as a baby. (160)
  • Sometimes she wondered if Miss Vignes was a separate person altogether. Maybe she wasn’t a mask that Stella put on. Maybe Miss Vignes was already a part of her, as if she had been split in half. She could become whichever woman she decided, whichever side of her face she tilted to the light. (161)
  • Strange that the greatest compliment an actress could receive was that she had disappeared into somebody else. Acting is not about being seen, a drama teacher told her once. True acting meant becoming invisible so that only the character shone through. (225)
  • All the stories she knew were fiction, so she began to create new ones. She was the daughter of a doctor, an actor, a baseball player. She was taking a break from medical school. She had a boyfriend back home named Reese. She was white, she was black, she became a new person as soon as she crossed a border. She was always inventing her life. (254)
  • She had been acting her entire life, which meant that she was the best liar that she knew. Well, second best. (255)
  • Before each open house, she felt like she was back onstage again, waiting for the curtain to rise…She would disappear inside herself, inside these empty homes where nobody actually lived. As the room filled with strangers, she always found her mark, guiding a couple through the kitchen, pointing out the light fixtures, backsplash, high ceilings. “Imagine your life here,” she said. “Imagine who you could be.” (256)


  • Stella listened, sometimes judged, but never told, and that was the part that mattered most. Telling Stella a secret was like whispering into a jar and screwing the lid tight. Nothing escaped her. But she hadn’t imagined then that Stella was keeping secrets of her own. (15)
  • She had never imagined that Stella kept big secrets from her. Not Stella, who’d slept beside her, whose thoughts ran like a current between them, whose voice she heard in her own head. How could she have spent that whole summer not knowing that Stella had already decided to become someone else? She didn’t know who Stella was anymore, and maybe she’d never quite known her at all. (63)
  • Jude wasn’t like Sam either. She was, in a way, like Stella. Private, like if she told you anything about herself, she was giving away something she could never get back. (65)
  • She always wanted to believe that there was something special about her but she knew that Mr. Dupont only picked her because he sensed her weakness. She was the twin who wouldn’t tell. (132)
  • She’d done one interesting thing in her whole life, but she would spend the rest of her days hiding it. (149)
  • He didn’t mind her secrets. He would learn them in good time. But years had passed and she was as inscrutable as ever. (163)
  • She’d created a new life with a man who could never know her, but how could she walk away from it now? It was the only life she had left. (169)
  • She had chosen her own life, years ago; Kennedy had only cemented her into it. Recognizing this wasn’t the same as blaming her. She’d sacrificed for a daughter who could never learn what she’d lost. The time for honesty between the two of them had passed long ago. (194)
  • She would talk to her mother on the phone, days later, and not say a word about Stella. Maybe she was like her aunt in that way. Maybe, like Stella, she became a new person in each place she’d lived, and she was already unrecognizable to her mother, a girl who hoarded secrets. A liar. (215)
  • Secrets were the only language they spoke. Her mother showed her love by lying, and in turn, Kennedy did the same. She never mentioned the funeral photograph again, although she’d kept that faded picture of the twins, although she would study it the night her grandmother died and not tell a soul. (285)
  • They did not tell their mothers about these phone calls. They would both keep that secret to the ends of the twins’ separate lives. (285)

Passing for White

  • It wasn’t lying, she told Stella. How was it her fault if they thought she was white when they hired her? What sense did it make to correct them now? (55)
  • “But white folks can’t tell,” she said. “Look at you—you just as redheaded as Father Cavanaugh. Why does he get to be white and you don’t?” (62)
  • Passing like this, from moment to moment, was funny. Heroic, even. Who didn’t want to get over on white folks for a change? But the passe blanc were a mystery. (63)
  • But for all Desiree knew, Stella had lived white for half her life now, and maybe acting for that long ceased to be acting altogether. Maybe pretending to be white eventually made it so. (63)
  • She felt queasy at how simple it was. All there was to being white was acting like you were. (68)
  • There was nothing to being white except boldness. You could convince anyone you belonged somewhere if you acted like you did. (127)
  • The idea of pregnancy terrified her; she imagined pushing out a baby that grew darker and darker, Blake recoiling in horror. (129)
  • But after she’d given birth, she felt overwhelmed with relief. The newborn in her arms was perfect: milky skin, wavy blonde hair, and eyes so blue they looked violet. (129)
  • When she’d first passed over, it seemed so easy that she couldn’t believe she’d never done it before. She felt almost angry at her parents for denying it to her. If they’d passed over, if they’d raised her white, everything would have been different. (144)
  • At first, passing seemed so simple, she couldn’t understand why her parents hadn’t done it. But she was young then. She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you. (145)
  • But what had changed about her? Nothing, really. She hadn’t adopted a disguise or even a new name. She’d walked in a colored girl and left a white one. She had become white only because everyone thought she was. (161)


  • You couldn’t go through your whole life not knowing something so fundamental about yourself. She would feel it somehow. She would see it in the faces of other blacks, some sort of connection. But she felt nothing. (233)
  • If dating Frantz had been some type of experiment, then it had failed terribly. Loving a black man only made her feel whiter than before. (235)
  • “It doesn’t make me anything,” she said. “My father’s white, you know. And you don’t get to show up and tell me what I am.” It wasn’t a race thing. She just hated the idea of anyone telling her who she had to be. She was like her mother in that way. If she’d been born black, she would have been perfectly happy about it. But she wasn’t and who was Jude to tell her that she was somebody that she was not? Nothing had changed, really. She’d learned one thing about her mother, but what did that amount to when you looked at the totality of her life? A single detail had been moved and replaced. Swapping out one brick wouldn’t change a house into a fire station. She was still herself. Nothing had changed. Nothing had changed at all. (252)


  • A woman protecting her home came from a place more primal than politics. Besides, in all the time he’d known her, she’d never spoken kindly of a Negro. It embarrassed him a little, to tell the truth. He respected the natural order of things but you didn’t have to be cruel about it. (125)
  • These were fine people, good people, who donated to charities and winced at newsreels of southern sheriffs swinging billy clubs at colored college students. They thought King was an impressive speaker, maybe even agreed with some of his ideas. They wouldn’t have sent a bullet into his head—they might have even cried watching his funeral, that poor young family—but they still wouldn’t have allowed the man to move into their neighborhood. (136)
  • “There you go,” he said. He didn’t even look at her. But a week after Christmas, sitting around her sewing circle, she told Cath Johansen and Betsy Roberts that he made her uncomfortable. (172)
  • Stella would tell her that she’d only said those terrible things about Reg because she was desperate to hide. She’d tell her because, in spite of everything, Loretta was her only friend in the world. Because she knew that, if it came down to her word versus Loretta’s, she would always be believed. And knowing this, she felt, for the first time, truly white. (173)
  • She couldn’t help it—she was surprised that they were still together. She knew his type—painfully handsome—and it wasn’t the type to love a girl like Jude. Sure, she was striking in her own way, but a pretty boy like him would never fall for a girl who was difficultly beautiful. (236)

Being Transgender

  • “You’re a transsexual,” Barry said. “I know exactly what you are.” Reese had never heard the word before—he hadn’t even known that there was a word to describe him. He must have looked surprised because Barry laughed. (120)


  • He loved taking pictures of anything but himself. The camera never saw him the way he did. (92)
  • She wasn’t some little tugboat, drifting along with the tide. She had created herself. Since the morning she’d walked out of the Maison Blanche building a white girl, she had decided everything. (147)
  • That she hadn’t meant to betray anyone but she’d just needed to be new. It was her life, why couldn’t she decide if she wanted a new one? (156)
  • She’d always thought of herself as part of this pair, but in New Orleans, she splintered into a new woman altogether after she got fired from Dixie Laundry. (156)
  • Being white wasn’t the most exciting part. Being anyone else was the thrill. To transform into a different person in plain sight, nobody around her even able to tell. She’d never felt so free. (156)
  • Gone was her sweet-faced girl, and in her place, a tawny, long-limbed woman who changed her mind daily about the person she wanted to be. (192)
  • You didn’t just find a self out there waiting—you had to make one. You had to create who you wanted to be. (259)
  • She would always feel that urge to escape tugging at her and never understand why, not if Stella didn’t explain it to her. Her daughter, who would forever be the only person in her life who really knew her. (278)


  • Sometimes being a twin had felt like living with another version of yourself. That person existed for everyone, probably, an alternative self that lived only in the mind. But hers was real. (199)
  • Other times it felt like living with a foreigner. Why are you not more like me? she’d think, glancing over at Desiree. How did I become me and you become you? Maybe she was only quiet because Desiree was not. Maybe they’d spent their lives together modulating each other, making up for what the other lacked. (199)
  • At first it unnerved Stella, a person speaking to her and Desiree responding. Like throwing her own voice. But soon she felt comfortable disappearing. You could say nothing and, in your nothingness, feel free. (199)
  • And all the while, to Adele Vignes, the twins were the same as they’d ever been. Time was collapsing and expanding; the twins were different and the same all at once. (271)
  • She’d always felt like the older sister, even though she only was by a matter of minutes. But maybe in those seven minutes they’d first been apart, they’d each lived a lifetime, setting out on their separate paths. Each discovering who she might be. (275)
  • “Sometimes I think I should’ve left sooner. For you and for me. We could’ve been anywhere. I could’ve been like Stella, lived a big life.”


  • People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else. (77)
  • BY HIGH SCHOOL, the names no longer shocked her but the loneliness did. You could never quite get used to loneliness; every time she thought she had, she sank further into it. (77)
  • Still, sometimes, Kennedy felt like a daughter who belonged to someone else, a child Stella was borrowing while she loaned a life that never should have been hers. (129)
  • What good would looking back do? She was tired of justifying a choice she’d already made. She didn’t want to be pulled back into a life that was no longer hers. (155)
  • “You don’t have to explain anything to me,” she would say. “It’s your life.” “But it’s not,” Stella would say. “None of it belongs to me.” “Well, you chose it,” Loretta would tell her. “So that makes it yours.” (173)
  • But here in this world, her daughter felt like a stranger and it terrified her. If her daughter didn’t feel like she was really hers, then nothing about her life was real. (197)
  • But his taste in white girls was varied and she couldn’t decide what was worse, to be the latest iteration in a series of similar lovers or to be radically different from the ones who’d come before her. Belonging to a pattern was safe, at least; to be singular was a risk. What was it, exactly, that Frantz liked about her? How could she ever hope to keep him interested? (232)
  • There were many ways to be alienated from someone, few to actually belong. (233)


  • The drugs bothered Stella less than the indiscretion. Only a lazy girl would get caught, and her daughter was clever but lazy, blissfully unaware of how hard her mother worked to maintain the lie that was her life. (191)
  • The sudden rush of empathy startled her. Was that what it was like to be this girl? An unwise choice earning you sympathy, not scorn, a single moment of doubt forcing a practical stranger to affirm that you were, in fact, special? (201)
  • They both found each other’s lives inscrutable, and wasn’t that the only way it could be? Didn’t Jude wonder what it would be like to care so little about your education, to know that even if the worst happened, you would be all right? (204)
  • The girl was maddening sometimes, but maybe this was who Jude would have been if her mother hadn’t married a dark man. In this other life, the twins passed over together. Her mother married a white man and now she slipped out of mink coats at fancy parties, not waited tables in a country diner. (204)
  • Her whole life, in fact, had been a gift of good fortune—she had been given whiteness. Blonde hair, a pretty face, a nice figure, a rich father. She’d sobbed out of speeding tickets, flirted her way to endless second chances. Her whole life, a bounty of gifts she hadn’t deserved. (255)


  • He’d been given to his aunt and uncle when he was eight, because they had no children and his parents had too many. He did not know where his parents lived now, if they still lived, and he said that he never thought about them. (27)
  • “But I could never tell my mother any of this,” she said. “She’d just say that she was right. She cares more about being right than being my mother. Sometimes I don’t even think she likes me very much. Isn’t that something? To think your own mother can’t even stand you.” (209)
  • “I think everybody who ever hurt me loved me,” her mother said. (289)

Top Quotes

  • The hardest part about becoming someone else was deciding to. The rest was only logistics. (168)
  • But when had Stella based her decisions on an obligation to family? That was heart space. And maybe it had always been her head guiding her. She had become white because it was practical, so practical that, at the time, her decision seemed laughably obvious. Why wouldn’t you be white if you could be? Remaining what you were or becoming something new, it was all a choice, any way you looked at it. She had just made the rational decision. (190)
  • That was the thrill of youth, the idea that you could be anyone. That was what had captured her in the charm shop, all those years ago. Then adulthood came, your choices solidifying, and you realize that everything you are had been set in motion years before. The rest was aftermath. So she understood why her daughter was searching for a self, and she even blamed herself for it. Maybe something in the girl was unsettled, a small part of her realizing that her life wasn’t right. As if she’d gotten older and started touching the trees, only to find that they were all cardboard sets. (193)
  • Other times it felt like living with a foreigner. Why are you not more like me? she’d think, glancing over at Desiree. How did I become me and you become you? Maybe she was only quiet because Desiree was not. Maybe they’d spent their lives together modulating each other, making up for what the other lacked. (199)



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