Identical twins Desiree and Stella Vignes grow up in Mallard, a fictional small town in rural Louisiana established as a home exclusively for light-skinned black people.
In the 1950s the teenage twins run away to New Orleans and their lives change dramatically. The story kicks off 14 years later with Desiree returning home to Mallard with her eight-year-old daughter Jude. The town gossip begins immediately about the return of one of the “lost twins” and the fact that her child is dark-skinned. The story unfolds to reveal what happened to the twins and how their paths diverged when Stella decided to leave Desiree and her history behind and “pass” as a white person.
The family’s narrative is continued by the twins’ children, taking the story through the years into the 1980s. This book is engrossing, moving and well-crafted, and all the characters are well thought-out and memorable. It’s also very timely, as people around the world grapple with race relations and understanding societal and systemic issues related to race and identity. This is one of my top reads of the year. Highly recommended