Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Published: June 2020, Riverhead Books
Format: Hardcover, 343 pages
Source: Personal copy


From the

New York Times

-bestselling author of

The Mothers

, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children,
who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black
and one white.

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. Ten 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?

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.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers,
Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and
relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

My thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read by Brit Bennett and I know without a doubt it will not be the last. I read this as a buddy read and am so glad I had the opportunity to discuss it afterwards. There is so much to talk about here.

This book is such a thought-provoking, powerful read that takes a look at race and other important topics. Talk about a timely read. It took me out of my comfort zone for sure, but that is such a good thing every now and again. That is why I read – to learn, to find out new things, even when I read fiction. I read to experience things that I might not experience in my own life and that is exactly the experience I got with this book.

This book is about family and I love books that center on family, so right away, I was pulled in. Brit Bennett creates these characters, these two sisters that you immediately become invested in. I had never heard of the term “passing” before, but that is what one twin does, while the other continues to live as a Black woman. This book took me through a roller coaster of emotions and also challenged me. It had me pausing to really think about things that were occurring in this book, things I might not have thought twice about before.

I know that this is a book I will definitely be reading again. I have already purchased Brit Bennett’s book, The Mothers, and cannot wait to read that one, and know that I will be keeping an eye out for whatever else this talented author writes.

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