Back when her novel was different, before it was a New York Times best seller and a story about a secret, Brit Bennett got her first fan. She’s young now, 26—a fact that no one can believe, because her book feels so much older—but she was even younger then, 18, maybe 19. She was in a creative writing class her freshman year of college and she needed a short story to workshop. “I’m not a short story writer at all,” Bennett told me.
Instead, she pulled a scene from the novel she’d already been working on for more than a year, wrote it from the perspective of a girl with a deep, dark secret, and handed out copies to her class. One of her classmates admitted the next week in workshop that she’d become so engrossed in the story that she missed her stop on the train.