Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pages: 343 pages
Published: June 2020

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett has won all kinds of awards including Book of the Month's Book of the Year Award for 2020, proving that a few good things came out of that horrible year. Because I am a BFF member, I was fortunate enough to snag my copy for free this January. A story delayed is not a story denied. I can certainly see why Bennett has become a fast favorite author in the world of literary and historical fiction. She is, indeed, a talented writer. 

So, the book is about the identical twin Vignes sisters who are extremely fair in complexion. As young adults, the two women take two very different paths in life - one sister ending up on the east coast with an abusive husband, who happens to have lots of melanin, and she has to take the walk of shame back home to their small town of fair-skinned residents with her dark-skinned child. While the other sister ends up on the west coast married to a white man who has no idea she is Black. The novel turns into somewhat of a coming of age novel that spans the twin's lives and those of their daughters (one very White and one very Black) who, by happenstance, meet each other as young adults. 

I truly enjoy the writing in this book. Bennett does a great job creating imagery, evoking emotions, and telling truths about her characters. In this particular novel, which is her sophomoric piece (The Mothers, her debut), she takes on the heavy topics of colorism, identity, and self-acceptance in a very careful, thought-out way. Specifically, she shares the fictional account, that is very much based in reality, of a Black woman "passing" for White. This practice was often used as a path to opportunities and surely an easier life in segregated America. 

I was heavily invested in this story from page one. I often kept reading past my bedtime to learn more. There has been some buzz about the ending. It seems to me that the expectation was that there be some type of bang-up, action-filled ending. Instead the book, just ended. I don't think every story (whether it be in book or film form) has to have some satisfying conclusion. Like life, sometimes, the story just ... simply ... ends. (As a side note, I think a lot of people felt this way about the movie "The Photograph.") 

Recommendation: This book wasn't about the ending. It was about the journey. Every story does not need a resolved conflict or a happy ending. Sometimes it's just nice to peek into the lives of fictional characters for 300-500 pages and enjoy the literature. And that's exactly what I did. I highly recommend this book for mature teens and young adults (~16-19) as well as older adults looking to lose oneself in a beautifully-crafted story. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


  1. My copy just arrived today, I'm looking forward to reading this, especially after reading Ann Petry's book Passing last year. I love what you say in your review about appreciating the journey, that's so my kind of read, one I intend to savour.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I'd love to know what you think once you get the opportunity to read it. Read on!