The Personal Librarian

Marie Benedict and Victoria C. Murray have collectively written a new novel about J.P. Morgan’s librarian, who curated his personal library of art, books and other rare materials. Belle da Costa Greene was hired by Morgan in 1905 and she was very successful in adding to his vision for the library. But what no one knew (except her family) was that Belle was keeping a huge secret. She was not descended from a Portuguese grandmother, the reason she used for her darker skin color, but she was in reality Belle Marion Greener, an African American woman. Belle successfully kept her secret and her job throughout her life, and was left an inheritance from J.P. Morgan, at least in the story. I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. If you would like a glimpse of this amazing library, check it out here.

The Vanishing Half

Brit Bennett has written a fascinating novel about 16 year old twin sisters who disappear from a small town in the South. They run away to New Orleans, and live together for a short while, until one sister leaves abruptly without any notice, and her twin spends a great deal of her future life wondering why. The girls are both very light skinned African Americans; one sister marries a man with very dark skin and has has a child of “blueblack” color. She flees her marriage due to abuse, and winds up back in the town she grew up in. The other sister makes the decision to pass for a white person, and tells no one, not even her husband. Until one day when their daughters cross paths, and one girl figures out what happened. Both sisters experience being the “odd one out” in their circles, and the reader can empathize with both characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it.