Loyola University Maryland

Messina

Common Text

College of students speaking with faculty

During their time on campus, the Class of 2026 will think deeply about the multidimensional aspects of their identities and the ways in which they shape our interactions with others and the world.   To support this personal development, we have selected The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett as the 2022-2023 Loyola University Maryland Common Text. 

From Random House Publishers: 

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.


Loyola faculty members, administrators, and students chose this book largely because of the message then novel offers about community, connection and looking beyond the self.   The Vanishing Half will challenge all members of our community to examine our identities and values while considering societal issues such as racism, colorism, sexism, and homophobia.  

The Vanishing Half promises an introduction to the depth of thought, imagination, and challenge you can expect from your time at Loyola. We look forward to reading along with you and entering a conversation that enlightens and enriches your college experience. Members of the Class of 2026 will receive a copy of The Vanishing Half at summer orientation.  Those not attending an in-person orientation session will receive a code to their Loyola e-mail to redeem an e-book in late June.  The text will be integrated into class discussions and programming throughout your first-year experience.

Quick Links:

Several students running with arms linked in a grassy field
Your first year

What, exactly, is Messina?

A closer look at Loyola University Maryland's first-year experience.

We are a green office logo