Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

RATING: 10/10


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?

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 passingLooking 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.


“In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.”

The Vanishing Half is another masterpiece that I have read recently! This book is so relevant in times of racial and identity crisis!

We follow the story of a pair of light-skinned African American twins who decided to run away from their hometown (which is a small town and can be hardly found in our maps) to live a new life. Desiree Vignes chooses to embrace her race and live a life of an African American, whereas Stella Vignes decided to pass-off as a white.

While racial identity is the core theme of the story, Brit Bennett explored this issue in a very unique manner. Not only that she explored the conventional “Black vs White” issue, she is also brave enough to highlight the racial tensions between light-skinned and dark-skinned African Americans in this story. What I love the most is how Brit Bennett crafted Stella Vignes’ character. Stella is in such a conflicted state as she is living as a white and she was forced to be racist against the blacks (which is her own race) in order to fit in the white community. The conflict between her insecurity and desire towards status and wealth is brilliantly fleshed out in this story. Other than race and self identification, the LGBTQ element is definitely a highlight. This element is reflected in the relationship between Jude (Desiree’s daughter) and Reese, a trans man. Reese’s struggles as a transsexual is so compelling and believable!

The Vanishing Half will show you what it means to be a true page turner! Without a doubt, this is a 10/10 star read to me!

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