Cover Image: The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

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Member Reviews

The Vanishing Half is an absolutely fantastic read with a cast of vibrant, empathetic characters. I loved getting to know them and wanted to spend even more time with each of them. Standout characters include June, Reece, and Early. Bennett especially writes gentle masculinity so deftly. I imagine that's difficult to do. 
The issues around race and what constitutes Blackness in America is so salient for our current moment. The Vanishing Half really hammers home the fact that race is socially constructed and means nothing until we ascribed meaning to it. Definitely will continue to recommend.
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Wow. One of the best books I've read in recent memory. The characters were beautifully written, their stories both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It's an important book to read any time, but especially poignant in light of recent events. A must-read.
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Thank you NetGalley and Riverhead for my copy of The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. I was so excited to read because I have heard great things about the author! After reading this book, I will definitely be reading The Mothers in the near future.
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The story follows the light skinned Vignes twin sisters, who ran away from home at the age of sixteen. Soon they go their separate ways as they each choose different racial identities. Desirae lives with her Black daughter in the same town she escaped. The other sister, Stella, passes for white with her white husband and daughter⁠.
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I love the way Brit Bennett tells a story. She is a fantastic writer! I enjoyed the multiple perspectives, seeing a glimpse into the Black community and how Stella dealt with her world as a self appointed white woman. One sister navigates an abusive relationship while raising a Black daughter in the town she initially wanted to escape, while the other sister is trying to maintain her appearance as a white woman.⁠⠀
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This book covers many issues related to race, identity, gender identity, self discovery, relationships, and so much more! I found this story to be entirely engrossing, thoughtful, compassionate, and exceptionally wise. I absolutely loved this book and can't recommend it enough! This story is great for someone who enjoys a generational story, complicated families, or the book Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
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This book is currently #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers fiction list! The novel spans over several decades, starting in the 1960s with twin teenage girls Desiree and Stella. They live in the town of Mallard, populated by very light-skinned African Americans, who are still considered “negros” based on their blood and not their skin tone. When they run away and make lives for themselves, Stella decides to “pass” as a white person and abandons her family to marry a white man, who is never the wiser about her origins. Desiree goes the opposite way and marries a very dark-skinned black man. It took me a long time to get through the first 30% of it, which is mostly Desiree’s story, but it picked up once Jude (Desiree’s daughter) and Stella started narrating. It is an original concept that examines privilege in a thought-provoking way: Two women who look exactly the same but have very different lives, largely based on what race they are identified as.
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Wow. This blew me away. Gorgeous and epic and beautifully drawn characters. I'll be thinking about Desiree, Stella, Early, Jude, and Kennedy for a very long time.
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Wow! I'm not even sure how to review this book, it was that good. I really enjoyed The Mothers -- it stuck with me and was one I appreciated the more I thought about it. But I think I liked The Vanishing Half even more. Every single one of the characters was well-constructed, empathetic, and rich with nuance. The story was absorbing, the writing was beautiful, and I didn't want it to end. It tackles so much: whiteness, colorism, passing, queer relationships, trans identity, matriarchal families, marriage, motherhood, and more. Brit Bennett is a stunning writer who I cannot wait to read more from. This will most definitely be one of my favorite books of the year.
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This book definitely captured my attention. I think it is a very important read in this current climate we are living in. The characters really came alive. I feel the ending needed something... felt like something was missing.
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I found the storytelling to be trite and predictable.  I felt as if I had already read this book even though I was reading an ARC.
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I loved this book and will be including it in my summer book recommendations on Mashable.com, scheduled to publish July 4th weekend.
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The Vanishing Half grapples with the question - Can we change the direction of our lives and hide from ourselves as well as others?  I applaud Brit Bennett for an amazing and timely novel about twin black sisters who were so light that they could pass for white.  One sister chooses one path and the other sister chooses another path.  We follow these sisters and their daughters in their very different lives.  I will highly recommend  this stunning book to my book clubs.
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This book was amazing and I hope it gets the readership it deserves. Rich characters, beautifully drawn plot with expected turns.
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The Vignes twins were born in the small Louisiana town of Mallard, direct descendants of the town’s creator. The story goes that Alphonse, their great great great grandfather, founded the town for people like him, not accepted by white communities but wanting the avoid the treatment Black people faced. Overtime, upon this foundation, the residents of Mallard built the ideal that light skin should be prized above all else. The Vignes twins Desiree and Stella are Alphonse’s dream realized with their fair skin but after the twins leave Mallard, their lives split in life-changing ways. Desiree marries a man with dark skin and has a baby that looks like the father before escaping back to Mallard. Stella disappears one day and lives her life passing as a white woman with her white family in her white neighborhood.

I feel like I was write the phrase “race, class, gender” into so many book reviews to the point that it has lost its impact. It is a lazy way to write about a book this meaningful. Brit Bennett has truly created a masterpiece with her sophomore novel. She explores the construct of race as it relates to the identities of communities, nations, and of individuals. She ties in the similarities of gender and the assumptions that we make around this concept. She asks her readers of consider what it means to be Black, what it means to be white, to be a father, to be a woman, how these are understood, and how they can be performed. The Vanishing Half is an extraordinary multi-generational saga that will capture your attention while you’re reading and long after you’re done.
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This book floored me. I read it in one sitting, and I'm still thinking about it. It was highly-anticipated and rightfully so. Bennett had created a masterpiece with her second novel, "The Vanishing Half," and it comes at a very pertinent time. This books weaves in the story of Desiree and Stella Vignes, twin sisters from a small town in Louisiana unique for its light-skinned residents. Through that premise, Bennett weaves in a story about what it means to "pass" and how that can alter perceptions. 

This book was so intricate, beautifully-written and purely dazzling. It is one of the strongest books I've read in the last ten years, and I am anxiously awaiting Bennett's next novel!
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This is a pretty amazing book.  There is everything enjoyable about this generational novel--the writing, the plot, the characters (Jude is my favorite!), and most of all, the genius way Bennett crafted the different points of view to converge into one complex, connected, satisfying story.  There is sadness in this story, touching lightly on abuse and sexual identity, and heavily on race in the Jim Crow south.  But there is also happiness in finding love, redemption, forgiveness, and self discovery.  The Vanishing Half kept me thinking during reading and after, about how racism can be so casual and common, and privilege makes some of us not even see these biases, however unconscious.  Change is overdue, and this book hits just right for these times.
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This was such a wonderful novel by Brit Bennett. Beautifully written and really made me think. Highly recommend.
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What might you be willing to sacrifice to live your life on your terms? The Vanishing Half, the enthralling narrative of Stella and Desiree Vignes’s journey to define themselves on their own terms, not those imposed by their family or Mallard, vividly and accurately presents the costs of choosing to live on their own terms. The dynamic characters and their authentic conflicts and relationships make the story relatable and captivating. These characters are people you would actually befriend.
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I read this in one sitting. I could not put it down. I liked "The Mothers," but this book I loved. I did cry at times, as Bennett captures relationships so well.
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I started this book before the before the death of George Floyd and finished it on day 12 of the protests. If anything, the current moment just adds more depth and more understanding to the question of why someone would risk giving up everything to live a life that requires looking over their shoulder in order to not have to live it as a black person. I could not even being to touch on all of the themes in this story but what strikes me most are the decisions made by each sister and their off-spring; each living completely different lives. You have Desiree, the outspoken and head strong sister who chooses to live a simple life as a black woman in a small town that is  not accepting of diversity. She doesn't ask for much and she doesn't take much. Her twin sister Stella, vanishes and chooses to pass as a white woman and live a life that requires her to hide in plain view and turn on those that she she identifies with the most. She  is provided with every opportunity but readers might question whether she has sacrificed more than she has received. Desiree's daughter Jude is so dark she can recite a list of things that people have said to her over the years to make it known just how they dark they see her.. Some might say that she, the darkest character, is living life the most freely making choices and pursuing dreams and answering to nobody.  And finally, Kennedy, daughter of Stella who has no idea that she has even a trace of black in her and lives freely and with privilege completely unaware of her background and the sacrifices  that have been made for her live freely. And despite every privilege lives a life where through her own lack of identity  she squanders the opportunities that are hers to seize. Through storytelling, the author had me empathizing with each character and understanding just what a privilege it is to be born into circumstances, whether it is race, gender or sexuality, where you don't have to choose how covertly or how freely to live your life based on how much you are willing to endure from society. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in this complex and emotional story. .
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I really liked Brit Bennett's debut The Mothers when I read it several years ago and eagerly anticipated The Vanishing Half, and it was absolutely worth the wait. This story is a family saga that also explores issues of race and perception in a plot that was truly riveting. There are lots of side plot points that are equally as engaging and well examined within this story. One of the most memorable books I've read yet this year.
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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is one of the books I've been most looking forward to reading this summer. Identical twin sisters from the South living completely different lives in two different societies. Race relations is the major theme of this book. Two very similar sisters who go on to lead two very different lives makes for an intriguing and riveting plot. Read and enjoy!
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