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Open Books Open Minds - The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The RIC Open Books--Open Minds common book for 2022/2023
Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her debut novel, The Mothers, was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for both the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, The Vanishing Half, was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, longlisted for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Women’s Prize, and named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times. Bennet has been named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, a NAACP Image Award Finalist, and one of Time’s Next 100 Influential People. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.
"I turn, always, to books because reading is the ultimate act of leaving your body, writing the ultimate prayer. You send words into the world and hope that someone is there listening, someone willing to leave their body to meet you halfway in the space between language and air. I have always found hope in this space, even as a little black girl in a church dress and white tights, daydreaming during a long sermon, amazed that I could be anywhere."
"In America’s contemporary imagination, terrorism is foreign and brown. Those terrorists do not have complex motivations. We do not urge one another to reserve judgment until we search through their Facebook histories or interview their friends. We do not trot out psychologists to analyze their mental states. We know immediately why they kill. But a white terrorist is an enigma. A white terrorist has no history, no context, no origin. He is forever unknowable. His very existence is unspeakable. We see him, but we pretend we cannot. He is a ghost floating in the night."
"Over the past two weeks, I have fluctuated between anger and grief. I feel surrounded by Black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life."
The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community - and the things that ultimately haunt us most. It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance - and the subsequent cover-up - will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.