Cover Image: The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

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Member Reviews

This is my most recent favorite book. It's powerful, excellent writing, good storylines, and has well-developed characters. I didn't want it to end, & it almost felt abrupt when it did. I could have kept on reading about these characters for another several hundred pages.
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The author provides a cast of characters that have altered their “expected” future and carved a totally different paths. 

How far will people go to transform themselves to what they wanted their lives to be and not what they were expected to be?

Some look back ruefully.
Some never look back.
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This was such a thought provoking book. I couldn’t put it down and wanted it to keep going. The characters were so well developed. I expected to dislike one of the twins but honestly didn’t because of how well written the story was. I would recommend this book again and again.
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A really engrossing read that lands somewhere between An American Marriage and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
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As many readers right now, during the days of Coronavirus, I've picked up & put down a few books . I needed something to really grab my focus. Well luckily this one did! Although I had to put it down to work from home, I looked forward to the end of the day when I could start reading it again. 
This is the story of identical sisters that together flee their little southern black community of Mallard but eventually take two very different paths. There is also the story of their daughters and the very different lives they lead. Each character has wonderful character development. And I have to say even when I didn't like them, I understood them.  All the characters are coming to terms with their identity, the secrets they keep , and the choices whether or not to reveal them. Great story! 
(So much to discuss for book clubs .)
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This book explores the effect that one's racial or sexual self-identity can have on relationships.  The story is fascinating and the characters likable and multi-dimensional.  The language is beautiful and the story moves smoothly. This is a great book for book clubs. I received an ARC from NetGalley.
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Brit Bennett’s new novel, The Vanishing Half, picks up many of the threads she successfully wove through The Mothers: family, loss, regret, race, and history. The book traces Stella and Desiree Vignes, identical twins from a strange, small town in Louisiana, who end up living anything but identical lives as one chooses to pass and leaves her life and history behind. “She’d done one interesting thing in her whole life, but she would spend the rest of her days hiding it.” A multi-generational novel, the story flows gently through time from the 1950s through the 1980s and from Louisiana to California and New York. I loved The Vanishing Half; Bennett handles difficult themes without coming across as preachy and her writing feels at once simple yet beautifully sophisticated. (“Her death hit in waves. Not a flood, but water lapping steadily at her ankles. You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.” Sigh.) A definite for the TBR list for readers of Tayari Jones, Meg Wolitzer, Kiley Reid and others.  Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group for the ARC.
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Beautifully written. Kind of in the same format of “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi. 
I did like the story and writing style.

First we have the story of the twins; then the story of the black sister, and then the story of the other sister who passed by white. At the very end I was a little tired of the story and thought it was dragging, but that could be because with the Coronavirus I have nothing to do and I was reading the book non-stop instead of taking a break. 

Lovely story.
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I enjoyed Brit Bennett's first book, but I absolutely love this one! Complex, heartbreaking and powerful. 

The Vignes sisters are identical twins who grew up in a small community in Louisiana in the 1950s. They run away from home together at sixteen and eventually one sister, Stella, will leave the other behind when she chooses to live her life passing as white. The choices each sister make will alter the course of not only their own lives, but that of their children as well. The book covers 4 decades and is told through multiple perspectives. 

This book is about abandoning your past and the emotional toll of living the lie you chose. It was heartbreaking to read how choosing to pass takes a daily toll on Stella, and it's the first time I've ever read anything that told such a compelling story about what this was like for so many. The constant fear of being found out, the grief over what you'd lost, knowing that the people you love could never know who you really are while realizing that some ties can never be completely cut. 

Highly recommend this book!
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I was enthralled by this book and I could not turn the pages fast enough. If you read Ms. Benett's previous book, The Mothers and enjoyed it, you will devour The Vanishing Half. The characters were just as memorable and just as consumable. I couldn't stop thinking about them long after I had turned the final page.

I've always loved familial sagas. The Thornbirds was a saga which I loved and this one was just as memorable.. and that is saying a lot. This book spanned multi-generations and told the story of the Vignes twins. Their bond was unbreakable and unshakeable. There were many themes in this book from racial identities to familial bonds.
I won't be forgetting this one anytime soon!
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What a wonderfully written book. This book gives a glimpse into the life of someone who has passed, all they had to give up. The family, love, and friends they would have to forego and the lies they would have to carefully weave to keep the past hidden. What a heavy weight it is to carry as we can see in the life of Stella. The hurt we feel in Desiree at losing her sister, the desire in Jude to find and reveal the truth and Kennedy's want to know and feel a connection to her mother. Jude and Kennedy technically and genetically  sisters themselves being the daughters of identical twins, had drastically different experiences. Though unlike their mothers who looked exactly the same, so much so you may mix them up, Jude and Kennedy would share no commonalities being night and day. One being privileged not only because of her families wealth but also because of the way she looked, the other discriminated against solely because of the way she looked. This book has levels to it when you take it all in, makes me think how my life would have been different or nonexistent had my grandparents passed. This could have easily been my own families story, How thankful I am that my grandparents did not pass.  Great read!
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This was a beautiful and compelling story about sisterhood, family, love, friendship, and race.  I was intrigued by the idea of following two identical twin sisters who take different paths in life.  Seeing their stories unfold, as well as the stories of their daughters and their new family and friends, was thought-provoking.  It made me think about the perception of race in America as well as how your view of yourself impacts the decisions you make and how you live your life.  The author wove in the theme of duality in really clever ways, most notably through transgender characters, costumes, and acting,  By the end of the story, I could see each character's point of view and although I didn't agree with everything each person said or did, I could understand their motivations.
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I am thrilled to report that Brit Bennett’s sophomore novel is even better than her debut (which I also loved). Please Brit, I want some more!!
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. 

Brit Bennett knocked this one out of the park. What a beautifully written, perfectly paced story! I would have gladly read another 200-300 pages of these characters. They were so well-developed that the reader simultaneously falls in love with them and questions their life choices. It is only March, but I predict this book will be in my top 5 of 2020. I am really hoping Kerry Washington or Ava Duvernay makes this a movie!
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THE VANISHING HALF follows the lives of two twin sisters, Stella and Desiree, who leave Mallard, a small town in rural Louisiana. At 16, they run away to New Orleans together before splitting their separate ways. Stella starts passing as white, leaving the rest of her life behind her, and Desiree marries into an abusive relationship, forcing her to return to Mallard with her small daughter. Sweeping from the 1950’s through the 1990’s, the novel switches perspectives from each of the twins to their daughters, Jude (Desiree’s) and Kennedy (Stella’s). 

Brit Bennett created a masterpiece!!! An exploration of identity contingent on race, sexual identity, and class, Bennett asks us, how much of our future can we change by burying our past? A page-turner made up of uniquely human and flawed characters -- I couldn’t put it down. I invested so much emotion into the lives of the Vignes and Sanders families. I can’t wait to talk about this with the rest of the world when it comes out on 6/2.
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I looked forward to reading this book because of the interesting premise of twin sisters who took different paths racially.  I enjoyed reading this story very much and I was really engrossed in the story. I liked how the story was set up, taking us back and forth between time periods and showing the story of the twins and their daughters. 

Like a few other reviewers, I wanted to see more of the twins after they reunited, their interactions, etc. I would have loved to witness how Stella’s husband reacted to finding out his wife was part Black. 

Overall, a very interesting read that I would recommend.
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I was thankful to get a chance to read this book before it was released, because I enjoyed Brit Bennett's book, The Mothers. I thought this one was a little slow starting, but when I got into it, I was really in. Stella and Desiree's story will be sticking with me.
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Great book.  Lots of twists and turns which kept me engaged and intrigued.  I found myself reading when I should have been asleep
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Since I have not read Brit Bennett's first novel, I wasn't sure what to expect from The Vanishing Half, but I was intrigued by the plot. I have read a few other books about "passing," and I am fascinated that a person's identity can be that ambiguous.

This is the story of Stella and Desiree Vignes, African American twins, who leave home as teenagers, with one of them going off on her own to live her life as a white person. The consequences of that choice reverberate throughout her life, her daughter's life, and that of her sister and niece.

The writing in this book was very strong and intelligent. I found myself highlighting several passages, including, "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." The tone was a bit melancholy, but I didn't mind because it seemed fitting.

I could see this book being a big hit with book clubs, since it touches on so many meaningful topics including, race, identity, being true to yourself, and even transgender issues.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Group Riverhead, for providing advance access to the digital copy in exchange for my review.
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I must begin by reiterating how much I enjoyed Bennett's debut novel so I was naturally excited that her second book was coming out this year. Similar to The Mothers, this novel explores race, family, and the complicated relationship between community and self. Twin sisters Stella and Desiree, eager to leave their small Louisiana town, start over in New Orleans- My Favorite place btw- the meat of the story is in the differences each of these women face with respect to privilege and racism and the choices they make within that scope. Brit's writing is lyrical, devastating, and exactly what we all need. Obviously, she is here to stay and she's the real deal. This book was fantastic.
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