New Contemporary Fiction: Bennett and Hornby

If you’re looking for fresh and entertaining, yet complex, novels set in the here and now, try these two new books!

Brit Bennett’s newest novel, The Vanishing Half, is an intergenerational story about family and race. It tells the story of twin girls who were brought up in Mallard, a small Southern town populated by Black people who take great pride in the lightness of their skin. The girls leave to go to New Orleans when they’re sixteen, and Stella, the quieter twin, leaves her sister with a note and disappears. Desiree, the more rebellious twin, believes her sister has chosen to pass for white and despairs of ever seeing her again. The two are separated for years, and Stella shuts out her past completely while Desiree returns to Mallard to raise her blue-black daughter and care for their aging mother. This is the story of the twins, and of their daughters as well. The storyline goes back and forth between timelines and points of view and these transitions are handled well. It’s a powerful story about race, family, and identity.

Nick Hornby’s latest, a novel called Just Like You, is a thoughtful, tender love story with an unexpected Happily Ever After. Set in London, the story spotlights the unconventional romance between a white forty-two-year-old woman and a Black twenty-two-year-old man. Lucy is divorced and a mother of two boys and she meets Joseph while he’s working the counter at their neighborhood butcher shop. He ends up babysitting for her but Lucy decides she’s more interested in him than in the men her age she’s dating, and he returns the interest. It’s a delight to see them navigate a relationship that has so many hurdles to overcome. They both have doubts about their future together and handle their misgivings in realistic ways that make the reader empathize with both characters. The story deals with thought-provoking topics such as race and aging while at the same time being an upbeat, funny book. This was a warm yet refreshing read.

Other books by these authors include:

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby


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