What readers think of The Vanishing Half, plus links to write your own review.

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The Vanishing Half

A Novel

by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett X
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
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  • Published:
    Jun 2020, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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There are currently 4 reader reviews for The Vanishing Half
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Juliana

Finding oneself
I found Bennett’s The Vanishing Half to read like a classic. A solid, almost old-fashioned story of family and destiny-making away from and in the small towns and big cities of America, woven around the big theme of identity, racial identity, gender identity, in the span of a few decades.
Bennett centers the novel on a pair of identical twin sisters, characters who are hard to tell apart when growing up but whose destinies could not be more different. At sixteen, Stella and Desiree Vignes run away from a tiny black but fair-skinned community, a place so peculiar that it tempts the sisters to try their luck in New Orleans, two hours away from home. A sister, impish and romantically-inclined seems to be the instigator, the other, more calculated and secretive surprises with her plan and all the decisions she makes thereafter. While Desiree returns a decade later from D.C. with a black daughter to spend the rest of her life in her place of origin, Stella travels as far as Boston and then Los Angeles, while adopting the identity of privilege and front doors, a white wife to a white husband who does not fathom her tribulations that have to do with lying, belonging and identity.
The sisters’ stories, organized in five “parts”, go back and forth between the 1990s and the 1950s, weaving the tapestries of their lives as they split and meander independent of each other until newer people in their lives come to interact, ponder on and plod through issues stemming from their past, affecting their present and future.
The clean, delicate touches of physical and psychological portraiture etch memorable characters in the families of the two protagonists so that we get caught in their story and enjoy it whole, including the fitting open ending.
Power Reviewer
Becky H

An Unsettling book
Unsettling is the only word I can use to describe this book. Can a person vanish? To themselves? To their family? Can men vanish from society? the world? Can a person vanish and still be physically present? Can a town vanish? Can a person make themselves vanish – even to their own self? What are the repercussions to vanishing? Can a vanished person reappear? And the last question – not are Blacks racist, but what form does it take?
At first, I thought this book was vaguely boring, then a third of the way in, I found it compelling. When I read the last page, I was disappointed. Few of my questions had been answered. And those answers simply produced other questions.
Books groups will either love or hate this book, but a lively discussion will certainly result. My one complaint is the book doesn’t have a conclusion; it just ends.
Karen T

Riveting
Can’t put it down! It’s our book club’s choice this month. Almost finished reading it. Told through multiple perspectives across decades. The characters development was excellent and even though the main focus was on twin sisters and their daughters there are so many side characters.
It’s emotional and thought-provoking. Addresses issues about identity, family and race in a thoughtful manner it’s not harsh, just a genuine perspective.
Power Reviewer
Sandi W

our past helps to dictate our future...
We all know that our past helps to dictate our future. We can run from our past, turn our backs on people and places from the past, disavow our past in many ways, but still it remains. Everyday of our life stays with us, including the past.

Two girls, twins, take separate and very different paths in life. African American, but very light skinned, one remains black and one chooses to be white. One twin was defiant, one recessive and shy. How different their lives become.

We spend time getting to know these twins as children, how they were raised. Then after they separate, we follow the lives of each adult, comparing and contrasting. This pattern also tracks the offspring, each of their daughters. Both so very different. Until one daughter seeks the truth and finds her cousin.

I found this book to be even better than I expected. Having read Bennett before, I knew how strong her writing was, how well she developed characters and how intricate her plot can get. I think this book is ever better than her debut book, The Mothers. However... similar to her first book, I was disappointed in the ending of this story. If Bennett has a flaw in her writing ability, it is book endings. As with her first book the ending of this book just seemed to fall off, fall flat. It does not leave you wanting more, it leaves you with a loss, a feeling of non completion. The ride through the story was great, nice and smooth, entertaining and comfortable, then it came to a screeching halt, lost in a fog, wavering disbelief, no idea of what path to follow.

In hopes that her story endings will improve, I will not hesitate to pick up another Bennett book. The ride is worth the dubious ending.
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