I found this novel to be very interesting and moving, and I am glad it received the praise and popularity it deserves. Brit Bennett is wonderful at creating complex and fascinating characters and exploring the nature of their relationships to each other and the spaces around them.
This book was a great story. It was very well written. It was not something that I typically read but was encouraged to do so based on other reviews.
A good book for discussion of race, colorism, the parts of ourselves that we hide from others, the possibility reinventing of yourself that forces you to live a lie. I really liked the characters, but I wanted so much more from the story. Just when I got interested in one woman, it jumped to another and I felt there wasn’t enough to connect them. They didn’t really ever connect with each other, all of them keeping secrets til the end. I suppose I wished that their choices had more consequences.
One of the criticisms I've heard of The Vanishing Half is that it brings too many issues into it. I disagree. I believe everything pulled into the story makes sense for the story, and is woven in quite cleverly. It is a bridge from the struggles of the past and those of the present all while telling a captivating story of two sisters through generations.
I’m late to the party on this one, but I’m glad it finally made its way to the top of my TBR pile. The Vignes twins grew up in a light-skinned community that valued that aesthetic, but it didn’t save their father from being dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night by white folks hellbent on violence. Years later, they run away together as teenagers, but Stella disappears again one day, and Stella eventually returns home with her very dark-skinned daughter. Stella discovers she can pass for white and builds a life around a lie, always keeping people at arms’ length and fearing her secret will be uncovered. As the years pass, their children grow up and uncover the secrets of the past.
This one reminded me a tad of Imitation of Life, just for the main storyline, but it’s much more layered with deeper stories of not only the main characters, but everyone in their lives. There’s some solid trans rep and a queer community that warms my heart. I dove into this one, alternated between print and audio, because I didn’t want to put it down, and it’ll stay with me for a long time. Definitely recommend. You can probably find it on the shelves of your local library.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved The Vanishing Half. Brit Bennet is such a gifted storyteller. I have given this book to multiple family members.
I enjoyed this book and read it for my book club. I was left with many questions and lots of fodder for discussion with my friends. I was very intrigued by the sister relationship from the beginning and actually could have read a whole book on just that! It was interesting to see how their paths differed, and in turn, how their daughters' lives differed. I thought the book moved through time very quickly, though, and I wish I could have spent a bit more time learning about the inner workings of the two sisters.
My "Booktalk with Diana Korte" podcast interview with Brit Bennett about her newest book, THE VANISHING HALF, says it all for me. Here it is--https://open.spotify.com/episode/49oF4ikvNRhNuZ1MMafAu3
I found this to be a really engaging and surprising read. I expected the story would focus more on the two twins—Stella and Desiree—but instead we follow their children for long periods of the story. Jude (Desiree's daughter) especially drives the story forward and I found her to be the most endearing and intriguing character. She embodies what is looked down upon in Mallard, and it was beautiful to watch her grow and figure out her life on her own terms, outside of such a constricting and judgmental community.
It was fascinating to see how motherhood and love were embodied differently through each successive generation of women. To see Stella and Desiree's relationship with their own mother morph so much as the book went on, and then to see how they passed that care and love to their daughters in different ways. Not necessarily in the sense of like.. inherited trauma (though that does indeed play a role, esp for Stella), but just how they interact with each other throughout time. It's a change in relationship that I can see in my own life, so it especially stood out to me as I read.
The town of Mallard, where Desiree and Stella grew up, felt like a time capsule as the story wore on. It was as if the residents lived in this little bubble that shielded and protected them from the threat of the outside world (aka white people), but also insulated them in their racist beliefs about the superiority of lighter skin. There is this warped view of time, race, and what it means to live a successful life that rubs off on each character in different ways. While Mallard and its residents aren't the biggest focus of this book, it was a really unique environment to read about and gave me a lot to consider.
Obviously, the comparisons to Passing are quite obvious. I do think Passing was a stronger novel in its combination of ambiguity and directness. And of course being able to write such a story in so few words is masterful. However, I did appreciate the wider lens that Bennett casts in this novel—this is a story that is much more character-driven and I really felt that. The characters that Bennett creates drew me back to the story again and again, and I'm really happy to have finally read this!
Such a compelling book about family, race, and legacy. Britt Bennett did it again! It was one of my favorite books of 2020!!
A captivating generational drama about race, family, and the choices made to have a better life. I read this very quickly because I was so engaged with these characters and how Bennett interweaves their stories together without messing with pacing or cohesion. That each character has to deal with real consequences for their choices and the inclusion of LGBTQ characters made this an all-around endeavor into character development and intricate storytelling. Normally this type of novel (family dramas) isn't my thing, but I'm very glad I read this one. Bennett is a master at voice and character building, and even when there might not be much going on, there is so much happening under the surface.
A subtle story of a family told across two generations. It's not a story that offers neat answers to all of the difficult questions that it raises, asking instead that the reader accept the messy, unresolved nature of relationships. Although the story hinges on a few remarkable coincidences, I was fully bought in due to the skillful characterization and realistic responses of the characters. I wanted to stay with them even after the story ended.
There is a reason this book has become so popular in the last couple years--from the get-go, I was hooked to it. I was in a bit of a reading rut going in, and this absolutely lifted me from it.
The story is told non-linearly, which I sometimes have problems keeping up with in other books, but I found that each of these characters felt so distinct and real, it wasn't too hard to find my way whenever a time or scene would change. The non-linear plot did make the ending feel like a let down, as all the exciting stuff seemed to happen at the beginning of the book, while the middle of the book really brought you closer to the characters. But I'm not too mad about the ending because stories like this never have loose-ends-tied, wrapped-up happy endings, and it's important to keep that in mind.
All in all, a wonderful read that I will surely re-read in the future.
I was lucky enough to read this book before I was approved for it on NetGalley. This book covers heavy topics, in a new light. I enjoyed the premise, but just wasn’t a fan of the book. I do recommend it, it’s just not my cup of tea. It would be an amazing book club read!!
This was my favorite book of 2020. I highly recommend Brit Bennett and will read anything she ever writes. Perfect for bookclubs. Perfect for anyone, actually.
I cannot remember loving a book nearly as much as I love this one in a long time, and I don't expect this one will leave me for years to come. A thorough look into race relations within the Black community, with commentary on colorism that left me rubbed raw and brought to tears, Bennett unflinchingly draws you into the story of two sisters who have chosen to live vastly different lives that have rippling effects across generations.
Really beautiful novel of two sisters, and an exploration of "passing" and colorism and racism. Lovely, if slightly emotionally detached, prose. Truly admirable.
The Vanishing Half was a solid book. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the topics it covered. My biggest complaint with the book was that if felt a *tad* abruptly finished; I would have liked a short epilogue that wrapped up a few loose (in my opinion) ends.
A good book but I found it hard to get into the writing style. Will try out another one of the author's books because the premise was very intriguing.
I intentionally read Passing by Nella Larson right before this one because I had seen people discussing the significance. I loved this book, the ways in which the complex feelings of race and positionality in this world are communicated, and the powers of liminality and what that means for people navigating their sense of belonging, community, and worth. I loved Bennett's first book and will most likely love everything she writes.