THE VANISHING HALF - BRIT BENNETT
Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Published: June 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
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
NICKY'S REVIEW ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Meet Desiree and Stella, two black twins in a small town, so fair skinned, they can pass as white. The decisions they make have manifested their own lives, as well as shaped those set for their children. This book explores the depths and motives behind the contrasting paths they take, yet are drawn together by decades of inequality. It brilliantly shifted between both POV’s, giving each character the intricacy that their complex psyche’s deserved. A masterpiece which gives an honest portrayal of modern America, and leaves a lot to dissect. Though at its core, it is a timely highlight of the complexities and daily struggles faced by the marginalised, with the gift of a compelling narrative.
NB. Often timing is everything when it comes to novels, and sadly for this one, it was right on the back of some stiff competition, and perhaps worthy of 5 stars in hindsight but #liveinthemoment #noregrets
TAY'S REVIEW ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
At the heart of this story was a deeply rooted struggle with identity and a family torn apart by the “consequences” of race. I found the two completely contradictory life paths taken by the twins incredibly curious, how they can both be raised the same yet have such opposing desires and direction. Though, as the story unfolded we became privy to moments of their childhood that gave nuance to their relative behaviours, which Bennett orchestrated brilliantly. She brought into question the betrayal and abandonment of one’s family and heritage, and the loneliness that ensues, yet managed to invoke a sense of sympathy for the character’s very justification in doing so. The writing and narrative were sophisticated and multidimensional, giving readers plenty to unpack and making it an exceptional book club pick. A book that transcends in all facets of literature.
OUR FAVOURITE QUOTE
“She hadn't realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”
Domestic abuse/violence, lynching, racism, sexual assault, transphobia.
Thank you to Hachette for sending us a review copy of this book.
You can find more information about the book and purchase a copy here.
Brit Bennett's website - https://britbennett.com/
Vanity Fair article - Brit Bennett on The Vanishing Half, Protest, and How Change Happens
Los Angeles Times article - HBO wins bidding war to adapt Brit Bennett’s ‘The Vanishing Half’ for TV
BBC Podcast - Brit Bennett on race, identity and protest
Good Morning America Interview - Brit Bennett talks about her book, 'The Vanishing Half'