Cover Image: The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

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Member Reviews

The Vanishing Half tells the story of the Vignes sisters, identical twins, who after growing up in a small southern black community run away in hopes of bettering their lives. Though identical, the twins embark on two different journeys, one sister, who years later, returns home with her black daughter and the other who secretly passes for white and has created the future she has always dreamt of. Despite these two different journeys, their lives are brought together when their daughters meet, colliding their two worlds.

This book was probably one of the most anticipated releases of 2020 and there was no way I was going into the new year without reading it and was able to wrap it up in the last two weeks of the year!

This was a frustratingly beautiful story.

I loved the honesty in this book. A lot of people shy away from discussing colourism in the black community and so the views of the Mallard community was a reminder that there were and unfortunately still are those who view lighter skin as superior, helping us to understand why passing would be attractive to some. So a book like this, delving into the history of passing is important and honestly made me appreciate Passing by Nella Larsen a lot more.

Now let’s get into some characters.

I absolutely loved Jude and Resse. Their relationship was a challenging one initially, but I believe all relationships require work and understanding. They weren’t picture-perfect but they were perfect to me! That’s it!

Desiree - I get she had to run but back to Mallard? Really? Knowing what Jude would experience? I want to call her selfish but maybe that’s a bit too harsh.

Stella - Her transition made sense to me, it was almost inevitable but I just found her to be selfish. However, it would be unrealistic to believe she would sacrifice all she had so 🤷🏾‍♀️

This is the beauty of Brit Bennett’s books - they are perfectly imperfect and you become fully invested in them, even after closing the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe that all the hype around this book was warranted. Brit Bennett is a wonderful author and I am excited to see what’s next!
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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was shortlisted for the Women's Prize 2021, Goodreads choice 2020 read, 
Sunday Times best seller. Long listed for the Women's Prize 2021 and Long listed for the National Book Award., 
It was a very good read and so well written, especially as Brit is a new author to me. This book was an amazing journey , whilst reading it and did force me out of my comfort zone but I am glad I had a chance to read and review it.

There a lot of topics included in this book which are:
-Self-esteem/self-confidence
- Colourdsm and passing for white
- Racism/bigotry. 
- Classism
- Domestic Violence
- Identity issues
- Lying/hiding truths
- LGBTQIA+
- Racism/bigotry. 

Thank you to Riverhead Books/Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for this ARC.
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What can I say other than what a fabulous book and I suspect destined to be one of my books of the year! It is a fascinating story full of well developed and interesting characters - Bennett's skill lies in exploring complex and emotive issues in such a readable way.  It is a book that had me engrossed from beginning to end and one I have been recommending to everyone.
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Wow. What a book. 

Twins Desiree and Stella grew up in an insignificant tiny town in Louisiana where if your skin is dark, you’re practically an outcast although all of it’s inhabitants are of black ancestry. The girls decide to run away, taking themselves off to New Orleans in the middle of the night and ending up in a minuscule apartment and working in a laundry. Stella goes on to find a secretarial job whilst Desiree stays at the laundry and so their lives begin to travel in opposite directions with Desiree returning home one day to find that Stella has cleared out with no indication as to why or where she has gone. As the tale progresses the twins’ daughters become entwined into not only Desiree and Stella’s narrative but their own story is just as mesmerising with each girl fighting their own demons. 

When I started this I didn’t think that it would captivate me the way it did but there’s just something about the characters that anchor themselves into your heart. The writer has the talent of writing about every single person/place in such a way that she makes them essential to the entire novel no matter how small or large a part they play. Having finished this beautiful novel I’ve come to the conclusion that the bones of it is about finding out who you are, what you want from life and how far you’re willing to go to achieve your goals. 

Huge thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This exploration of family, race, gender and its complications deserves all the attention it's received.

Now I want to read THE MOTHERS.
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This book really lived up to the hype. A story that has stayed with me for a long time. Her writing really gets inside your head and makes you feel.
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This is a fascinating story of two sisters, who go their separate ways. Coming from a mixed race community in Louisiana, they can pass as white, yet are effectively regarded as black and therefore are forced to follow the segregation laws of mid-Century America. While one sister chooses to rediscover her roots and marries an african-american man, the other sister, Stella, disappears from her family's sight, passing as white and building a life based on a dangerous lie. Circumstances and coincidences lead to the convergence of the two different worlds and Stella's world threatens to fall apart.

Touching on a rarely talked and written about aspect of american history, this book deals with the one drop theory in n engaging and masterful manner, and it is difficult to put it down. Clearly inspired by Nella Larsen's Passing, this is a must read if you are interested in the civil rights movement and the history of african-american people.
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I found most of this book so compelling that I just couldn't put it down. 
I found the story of Stella and Desiree so interesting.  The story perfectly reflects the struggles of various groups of people.
However, when the book concentrated more on Kennedy and Jude, I just didn't connect as much.  Saying that it's a great story and I'm so pleased that I received an arc of it from Netgalley uk
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A beautifully written book about race, family and identity.
Every character's story is beautifully crafted and developed, showing the complexities and hardships of life, along with the joys.
Extremely moving and, dare I say, life-changing book.
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I remember being drawn to Brit Bennett's previous work, The Mothers, and finding it difficult to get hold of in the UK at the time of publication. I eventually received my copy and the writing just blew me away, I couldn't put my finger on it at the time but The Vanishing Half has done exactly the same. You really get to delve deep into the characters' minds which were interesting yet moving at times. I found the concept ambitious and one that should be read by many!

You follow two sisters that have been brought up in polar opposite ways with the two narrative strands eventually converging, Serious issues regarding class and race were prominent themes throughout and really taught me a lot. Compelling and heart-breaking but one I can't wait to recommend,
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An amazing, thought-provoking and multi-layered book. Beautiful prose but with a gripping plot and wonderful characterisation, a 5 star read.
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Such a well written story, I could have carried on reading and reading. Great characters who you could relate to. Gave you a lot to think about. Highly recommend!
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Sorry not for me.  I just couldn’t connect to the story, didn’t enjoy it and gave up.  Others will love but not me.
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This book was amazing, and kept me gripped throughout. The author moved seamlessly between the different characters' stories (the characterisation was incredible) which helped you sympathise more deeply with each of them. The setting, the plot, the complex themes were described and discussed in vivid and engaging detail - couldn't recommend this book enough!
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Over Christmas I read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett after it appeared in so many of my fellow bloggers best books of the year and also on Waterstone’s list. This is the story of identical twins Stella and Desiree, who at sixteen run away from their small town to start a new life in the city. Ten years later one twin returns to her old home with her young black daughter whilst the other twin is married an living as a white woman. From the 1950’s to the 1990’s, this is a story of two young women, their life choices, their children and how race effects them.

After reading The Vanishing Half I understand why this book was one of the top reads of 2020. Brit Bennett writes an intricate and emotional story of two young women, once so close, who find their lives suddenly on very different paths. Both Desiree and Stella had a troubled childhood, seeing their father lynched at a young age. Both want to escape their hometown of Mallard where the only life opportunities for them are as cleaners for the rich white families. Running away to New Orleans gives them their freedom, and for Stella a job as a secretary, a job that is a catalyst for her to runaway a second time, this time leaving her sister behind. After this point they have no contact, and Stella never even said goodbye. Her employer seeing her as a white women gives her the chance to live a very different life, a life of privilege, of being like the women whose houses she had cleaned. However, this is a life where their is the element of fear, of being found out. Desiree has the opposite life, back in her hometown, living as a black woman with her daughter, working at a diner and having little money. Their daughters Jude and Reese, very different in looks and status, one privileged but not appreciating it the other poor but like her mother wanting a new life. It is fascinating seeing them together, and how the decisons their mothers made effects their lives.

Obviously this book had race, and how we perceive it at it’s centre. The many different shades of skin colour, how people perceive themselves, how others perceive them is an important discussion in this book. The town of Mallard, where Desiree and Stella are from, is a town founded by the son of a white plantation owner and black slave mother. The town over the years has worked to breed out darker skin tones towards a lighter population, literally trying to erase the past. This is the reason the town is uncomfortable and prejudice towards Desiree’s daughter Jude, her dark skin colour a reminder of the past they are trying to forget. Brit Bennett also looks at how the past influences the future, how experiences of childhood and the lives of their parents can set the expectations of the children. Brit Bennett’s writing is an articulate discussion of many subjects that are at the centre of today’s society including sexuality, diversity, equality and class.

The Vanishing Half is a beautifully written, emotive and fascinating read. The intricate relationships between the twins and eventually their daughters weaves a complex and emotional web that draws you in and doesn’t let go. This really is a stunning and engaging read and one I highly recommend. Since reading this book I have bought Mothers also by Brit Bennett.
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This book is both timely and timeless, touching on issues that are very "current" as well as some that are historical. The characters are relatable and although certain aspects of the story are far-fetched, the writing makes you want to believe in the situation.
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One of the best books of 2020. I absolutely adore this book - so visceral and moving and important. I’ll be recommending this novel far and wide this Christmas.
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such a beautiful, complex and ultimately timely book. How Brit Bennett manage to weave all the complex characters together so seamlessly made it such an enjoyable read - i felt invested in everyone. Off to read The Mothers now!
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I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group, and the author Brit Bennett. 
I really enjoyed this book. The story was engrossing and the characters incredibly well written, developed, and involving. 
It was beautifully written, and manages to cover a huge range of topical issues and the consequences of racism on different communities and individual lives. In this sense there are many parallels with 'Little Fires Everywhere', and reminded me a lot of that novel. 
Very excited to hear that it has been optioned by HBO to be turned into a series. I was thinking of it's potential for TV as I was reading it. Very deserving of the hype, highly recommended, 5 stars.
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Desiree and Stella are twins, growing up In the 1950’s in Mallard, a town in Louisiana inhabited only by light skinned Black people. When they are teenagers, they run away to New Orleans, and there, their twin lives separate. This is a compulsively readable story of race, colourism, class  and identity with compelling characters and a beautifully written narrative.
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