The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – A book review

Feb 1, 20218 comments

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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.

Have you read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett? How did it fare for you? What are the other recent historical fiction that you liked? Let us talk. Click To Tweet

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.

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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.
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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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Let’s chat

Have you read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett? How did it fare for you? What are the other recent historical fiction that you liked? Let us talk.

Hello there!

Gayathri loves reading, recommending books and talking about bookish things in real life. Her blog is just an extension of that habit. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she freelances as a beta reader. She lives currently in Dubai.Head over to meet me

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Debjani Ghosh
Guest
17 days ago

Fab review, Gayathri. Have seen this book being discussed by many bloggers. Glad to know despite not being plot-oriented, the author’s writing style kept you hooked. Very few books do that.

Victoria
Guest
24 days ago

I have not read it, but I have seen it everywhere. I think I might do the audio version of this book. Thanks for the great review.

Racheal Kizza
Guest
24 days ago

I have this book on my TBR list. After this review, I will definitely read it. It sounds quite interesting and worth my time.

Jenny @ Reading the End
Guest
25 days ago

I loved this book but definitely agree about Reese — it felt like he was there to make a point (several points) rather than to be a character. But apart from that I thought the book was just wonderful. And I didn’t think Reese was portrayed in a way I DISliked, just more that he didn’t feel as fully developed as the other characters and the rest of the book.

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