The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

What better way to begin a year than a hyped book that recently secured a HBO adaptation deal? Is The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett worth all the hype? Read my book review to know more.

About The Vanishing Half

Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett cover

Book Name: The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

Genre: Fiction – Historical,

Characters: Desiree and Stella Vignes, Jude, Reese, Kennedy, Early

Setting: Mallard, Louisiana, The USA

Plot Summary of The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett follows the lives of the Vignes twins who decide to run away from their small town at sixteen. The identical twins are so light skinned that they could pass as “White”. When the opportunity presents one of them takes it.

Desiree Vignes always wanted to get away from her town, where skin color is all that mattered. But when she returns years later, with a black skinned kid in tow, she was sure she will get away again.

Stella Vignes did get away from their town once and for all. She has a well settled life and a family that will never know her previous life.

Do either of them regret their choices? Is passing as “White” worth losing your identity and past? Can the lives of these identical sisters ever reunite? Read more about them in The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

Book review of The Vanishing Half

I am glad The Vanishing Half was one of the first books I read this year as it set such a positive hope for the year. I loved it and would keep recommending it to anyone who would listen.

Set in the fictional town of Mallard, Louisiana, The Vanishing Half deals with several intense themes like race, class, identity, internalized colorism, abuse, melancholy and motherhood. It made me question the narratives about race and caste passed on over generations by our families.

Despite the heavy themes, the author ensures to present a narration that is so gripping I never put it down once until I finished it. This is will be a wonderful pick for your next book club read!

While we might judge Stella for her internalized racism, bigotry and selfish decisions, it is hard not to sympathize with her loneliness and trying to find an identity for her new self.

What worked for me

  • I loved how the author got me introspecting my own prejudice and issues with generations of conditioning about colorism.
  • The Vanishing Half is not a plot oriented book, but it is just the author’s writing style kept me hooked until the end.
  • I loved how each character was well written and had a part to play. From Early to Reese, I enjoyed the male characters as much as the strong female ones.

What may have been better

  • I wish there were a bit more about Reese’s struggle as a trans guy in transition and passing himself as guy for years. I guess his life was not smooth as a trans man in the LGBTQ – drag circle in 1970s too.
  • The second part moved a bit slower than the first. You might find yourself skipping a paragraphs.
  • If you don’t like books with multiple POV, you might wanna watch out. But it did work spectacularly well for me.

Content warning

Racism (internalized and otherwise), Domestic abuse, colorism, running away from home, gender reassignment surgery.

Bottom line

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a must read historical fiction that deals with intense themes like racism, colorism, abuse and melancholy. Catch this hyped book out without hesitation!

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott- A book review

I jumped at the chance to buddy read Five feet apart by Rachael Lippincott, because it is not something that has ended up quite well for me historically and I would not pick it up on my own even though it was on my TBR. Go figure!

It has been a while since I read a young adult based in a hospital romance (or sick-lit, if I may). Yes it is supposedly a trope by itself, if you had not known earlier.

About Five feet apart

Five Feet Apart

Book Name: Five feet apart

Author: Rachael Lippincott

Genre: Fiction – Romance, Young Adult

Characters: Stella and Abby Grant, Will Newman, Poe, Camila, Mya

Setting: The United States of America

Plot Summary of Five feet apart

Stella Grant is a high schooler who is at the final stages of Cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder that mainly affects the lung. She has been a regular at the hospital for most of her life. She loves lists and being in control is the only way she knows to cope up with her health.

While she has a great support system and friends circle in and around the hospital, she has to avoid putting herself at the risk of infections she would be eligible for lung transplant.

Will Newman is a new CF patient to the hospital and all he wants is to get away from it. He has spent most of his life between clinical trials and staying at various hospitals and is now waiting to turn eighteen so that he can get away from all these restrictions and enjoy life as it should be. 

When they both stumble upon each other, they know they should stay away from each other. But what if they maintained a five feet distance between each other? Would that be so bad forms the rest of Five feet apart.

Book review of Five feet apart

Due to my earlier disappointments with the romances with sick teens, I was skeptical when I started reading Five feet apart and I was mildly surprised that I enjoyed it as much. Though I have a few misgivings about the plot, the easy writing and witty dialogues kept me going. 

I wish books would stop portraying that kids who are suffering some physical ailments do not get to enjoy anything in life and they need to break free of their treatments / medical restrictions to get to be “normal”.

I liked reading about the CF which is a new thing for me, and the story was cutesy as YAs tend to be and am totally looking forward to watching the movie Five feet apart starring Cole Sprouse now.

Things that worked for me

  • Five feet apart plays exactly into the trope of sick lit and does a good job with it.
  • I enjoyed the easy writing style and the witty banter between the characters.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I didn’t feel related to the characters but it is just me. It did not hinder my reading.
  • As I mentioned earlier, I personally had issues with the trope that encourages patients to break free of the treatment.


Five feet apart is a typical sick lit that does its job in opening up talks about the CF with a positive ending. I would recommend it for all John Green (of course) and Nicoola Yoon fans.

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – A book review

If you have been reading my reviews for a while you might know that I love jumping into a book without even reading the synopsis of a book. And I solely depend on recommendations and reviews of other bloggers and my mood swings to pick a book. 

When I assumed that it was a contemporary murder mystery, I could not have been more wrong about The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton when I picked it up, after three other bookworms suggested it to me. I can’t wait to rave talk about the book to you all. Shall we get on with the review now?

About The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Book Name: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Author: Stuart Turton

Genre: Fiction – Thriller, Paranormal

Characters: Evelyn Hardcastle, Sebastian Bell, Dr Dickie, Aiden Bishop, Daniel Coleridge, Michael Hardcastle, Charles Cunningham

Setting: The UK

Plot summary of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Our protagonist wakes up with just a name in his mind and no other memory what so ever. He does not know his name or his history, except that he has to save Anna. He finds his name to be Sebastian Bell, a drug peddling doctor who is invited to a party at the Blackheath estate. 

Soon he realizes Bell is just one of his hosts and has eight days and eight lives each in a different person’s body tasked to find the murderer of Evelyn Hardcastle, one of the heirs to the Blackheath. 

He discovers that he is Aiden Bishop who is stuck in a time rut and until he finds the murderer he has to relive these eight days for eternity. What brings Aiden to Blackheath and does he solve the murder forms the rest of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Book review of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a perfect blend of mystery novel with time travel fantasy. It took me a few pages to get into the story especially since I was not sure what to expect. But once I did, I just couldn’t put the book down until the end. 

I should start with I have not read a book as complicated as The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the recent while, or maybe in a long time. 
And it reads like a puzzle than a typical mystery novel.

It offers more than unexpected twists and suspense that is maintained till the last page. There are quite a number of captivating plot lines and characters that make us question our trust and their perceptions. 

Things that worked for me

  • As a newbie to the time travel genre, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle blew my mind and I am sure it would be as good even if you are a regular.
  • I loved the methodical approach in solving the mystery, which is becoming a rarity these days.
  • And also, here is another unreliable narrator to love and rave about.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • Being a vividly plotted novel, many may consider the pace to be slow, especially for a murder mystery
  • I felt The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was a little long winded during the last few chapters. 


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is one of those rare books that I would not mind rereading for the plot itself, just to make sure I had not missed out anything. And I am sure The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will be worth reading twice. Just pick it up already. 

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

Unmarriageable – A book review

I know retellings are all the rage recently. It looks like I am late to catch up, like every other trend out there. Retelling, a relatively new genre, refer to a new version of a familiar classic maybe in a modernized set up or imagined from a different point of view. After a lot of persuasion (wink.. wink..), I picked Unmarriageable, a new version of Pride and Prejudice.

About the book


Book Name: Unmarriageable

Author: Soniah Kamal

Genre: Fiction – Romance, Retelling

Characters: Jena, Alysba, Mari, Qitty, Lady, Mrs. Pinkie, Mr Barak (The Binats), Valentino Darsee, Bungles Bingla, Jujeen Darsee, Sherry Looclas, Fahad Kaleen

Setting: Pakistan

The plot

Unmarriageable, set in Pakistani background, follows the Pride and Prejudice to the T revolving around the five daughters of Mr and Mrs Binat. Their elder daughters Jena and Alysba work in a school nearby and meet their counterparts “Bungles” Bingla and Valentino Darsee in a wedding.

While Jena and Bungles like each other right from the start, Darsee looks down upon the Binats, thanks to the actions of their dramatic sister and materialistic mother. Alys finds Darsee to be haughty and vain, and she befriends Jeorgeulla Wickaam, Darsee’s cousin who further tarnishes his image.

Soon the Binat family hates him and when Bungles leaves the town without proposing to Jena, they assume it was Darsee’s doing. Do they end up together forms the rest of Unmarriageable.

My initial thoughts

I picked Unmarriageable because I missed Jane Austen and wanted to get into her world, and Unmarriageable did exactly that. I could see the Austen’s characters in Soniah Kamal’s and it stayed true to the original. The sub plots of Kaleen and Sherry (Colleen – Charlotte) and the way they had been adapted to the modern Pakistan fit perfectly.

While I understand it is a retelling, I wish the author had explored the characters deeper. Lady’s character was a cliche and I felt there was more scope for development, given the period it is set in.

I couldn’t avoid feeling it was weird that the characters discuss so much about Austen and even a character talks about Alys being similar to Lizzie, but they didn’t figure out they were literally acting like them. A glaring plot hole maybe?

Things that worked for me

  • Unmarriageable stayed true to the original Pride and Prejudice, in terms of social commentary and the plot. 
  • I loved many of the desi version of the characters like Sherry and Kaleen.
  • There are parts where the author shines, especially where she had changed Austen’s text to suit her narration. 

Things that didn’t work for me

  • Maybe, Unmarriageable was too close the original and I found it unimaginative at places.
  • There were places that the prose to be dragging. 
  • I didn’t find the charm of the Lizzie Bennet in Alysba, but that might be a personal bias.


While there are lot of things that I wish were better with Unmarriageable, but as a retelling the author succeeds in making me fell nostalgic about Pride and Prejudice. I am still on the lookout for a better retelling of Pride and Prejudice. If you know any, let me know.

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams – A book review

Does it ever annoy you when you expect something from a book because it was marketed so but then it turns out entirely different? I picked Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams because it had great reviews and it said it was ‘Bridget Jones meets Americanah’. But it turned out to be something different. Let us find out how Queenie was for me, shall we?

About the book

Book Name: Queenie

Author: Candice Carty-Williams

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Queenie, Tom, Diana, Darcy, Kyazike, Cassandra

Setting: LondonEngland, The UK

The plot

Queenie is a 25 year old Jamaican British woman, a typical millennial living in the pricey London and working for a newspaper. She has a close friend’s circle and a long term Caucasian boyfriend. Her family consists of overbearing grandparents, a religious maternal aunt and an estranged mother – you know the typical Jamaican family. 

Things spiral down fast when her boyfriend proposes a long break from their relationship. Her performance at work suffers and finally she gets fired. Her social life derails when she starts hooking up with men who have no time or interest in her personality.

How Queenie deals with it and gets out of the mess that is her life now with the help of her family and friends forms the rest of the story. 

My initial thoughts

Queenie is a tale of a young woman who tries to find her identity between the two cultures. It is less of a love story but more about strong female characters and their friendship and family ties. The characters are flawed but they are relatable and their problems are real. Though set in the UK, their story is from everywhere. 

I agree that the Jamaican culture took little back seat among the other themes but from what was described I found it was similar to the Asians. Especially the importance given to family and religious sentiment. I loved how Queenie spoke about the stigma around the mental health and that is something really close to my heart. If only more people get off that mentality soon.

Also when I picked Queenie looking for a cheesy love story but instead found an intense book that spoke about several themes like sexism, feminism, sexual harassment at work and fetishising of Black women’s body. Though they were touched lightly, I am glad Queenie opened the topic at the least.

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the flawed characters and the pains were real.
  • Queenie talks about the importance of female friendship that sees through every up and down of her life. 
  • It opens up the topic about the stigma around mental health and taking steps to improve it.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I wish Queenie had spoken more about the racial and other issues.
  • I was totally misled by the genre classification and the summary. 


If you loved dry British humor like Chewing Gum (Netflix) or Fleabag, you will love Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. It totally surprised me and I think it is one of my best reads of 2019, as of now.

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