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Brit Bennett Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Mothers (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Vanishing Half (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

Butterball (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nadia (2016)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Brit Bennett is a literary fiction author born and raised in Oceanside in North San Diego County in South California. Oceanside exposed her to a lot of different cultures as it was a racially diverse town with a beach that had people from all socioeconomic backgrounds vacationing there. It was a conservative town that is pervaded with military culture, though she has always felt an inside out dynamic as her family was not a military one. As a teenager, she went to Sanford University and later attended the University of Michigan where she got her MFA in creative fiction. It was at the latter institution where she won the Wright/Hurston award for College Writers in 2014 and the Hopwood Award in Graduate Fiction. She is also a winner of the Robert M. Golden Thesis and the Guerard/Bocock prize that she got as an undergraduate at Stanford. In the years preceding the publishing of her first novel “The Mothers,” she had built an impressive brand as a social commentator working for some of the biggest publications in the United States. She had her huge break with “I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People,” an essay that she published in “Jezebel” that had over a million shares. Since then, her work has been featured in several publications such as “The Brian Lehrer show in NPR,” “The New York Times Magazine,” “The Paris Review,” and “The New Yorker.”

Bennett’s first novel “The Mothers” is a compelling story of young love. It is set in Southern California in a community that evokes the settings that the author grew in. She has said that she was inspired to write the novel and set it mostly in a black community given that she grew up in the church. Given her upbringing, she had a strong interest in the lives of church-going teenagers who seemed to have more devotion in matters of religion. As a teen, she attended church but had a lot of questions about faith and religion and thought that compared to the people in her society she had too many doubts. There was a feeling of an outsider looking in as she felt she had questions she could not explore or raise as she believed that it was not right to have doubts. The conviction and passion of the young teenagers in her community was always a conundrum and her questions for this soon metastasized into an idea for a story that would be about the entire community in her debut novel “The Mothers”. As a person with a lot of interest is social issues particularly to do with the black community, she was also interested in the Jim Crow era. As such, “The Vanishing Half” which is her second novel was inspired by this fascination with the period. The novel is set in Louisiana and tells the story of two sisters who get separated and went on to become very different people. Bennett is still writing essays too and is working on perfecting the form and hopes to write a collection in the future. However, she is more concerned with the novel form at the present and has more works planned in the coming years.

Brit Bennett’s “The Mother’s” harks back to her time growing up in a black community in Oceanside, California. The lead in the novel is a grief-stricken, rebellious seventeen-year-old named Nadia Turner. She is in the last season of high school and has been left devastated after her mother committed suicide. She has now taken up with Luke Sheppard, a twenty-one-year-old local pastor’s son. He was once a popular football star but an unfortunate injury forced him to quit what seemed like a promising career and he now works at a diner waiting tables. They are young and were just fooling around when she falls pregnant and the subsequent cover-up has a significant impact on both their lives. Nadia is hiding her secret from her God-fearing friend Aubrey and everyone else who she thinks might judge her for what she had gotten herself into. Soon, Aubrey, Luke, and Nadia become adults but they still have to face up to the consequences of the choices they made that summer years ago. They are now in a love triangle and they need to maneuver carefully, even as they are constantly asking what would have been had they made different choices. They are relentlessly haunted by the possibilities of the road they decided not to take. “The Mothers” is written in lyrical and entrancing prose and asks if doubts about roads not taken might result in a dilution of experiences. At its core, the novel is all about saying that people have to live with the consequences of their younger selves and that decisions that we or our parents make in our lives have a long-lasting if not permanent impact.

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett is a novel that tells the story of the identical twin sisters. They had been raised together in a small southern Californian community but had run away from home when they were aged sixteen. From then on, they had very different life trajectories that included everything from their racial identities, communities, and families. A decade later, one of the Vigneses is living back home in the small southern town she had once run away from. The other who could pass for white got married to a white man who knows nothing of her background. But even though they are separated by many lies and miles, it seems their destinies are forever intertwined. Everything will come together as their storylines are set to intersect when their children grow into adults and meet. The novel tells a story from the 1950s to the 1990s set in the Deep South of California, where Brit Bennett weaves a story that involves several strands and generations of family. It is an emotional and riveting story and a brilliant exploration of the experience of people of color in the Deep South. However, it is more than a causal look into issues of race as it also tells of how a person’s background significantly influences expectations, desires, and decisions in later life. It is also an exploration of the multiple realms and reasons that force people to live life as something or someone they are not.

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