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Book Review: The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett| Pub: June 2, 2020 by Riverhead Books | 2020 BoTM Book of the Year | Good Morning America selection | 2020 Goodreads Choice Winner | 352 Pages
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My Review Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
At first, passing seemed so simple. But she was young then. 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.
My Thoughts: The Vanishing Half is a book about identity and coming into one’s own self; being true to who they want to be and how they want to present themselves to the world.
Overall I thought this was a slow read and though it touched on imports at topics I didn’t find it entertaining or enlightening. It was somewhat thought provoking but I didn’t enjoy reading it.
I’m not a fan of books that span multiple time periods like this. I would classify this book as historical fiction and that’s my least favorite genre. I would have enjoyed this more if the main focus of the book was the youngest generation of daughters and their shared family history was written into the story. I thought it was too slow and honestly just wasn’t for me.
Quick Take: This book was well received and made multiple ‘best of’ lists. It wasn’t my cup of tea and I wouldn’t recommend it.
Topics & themes: racism, cross-dressing, transgender and gender identity, domestic abuse, witness to a brutal violence
In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same color.
From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.
“Bennett’s gorgeously written second novel, an ambitious meditation on race and identity, considers the divergent fates of twin sisters, born in the Jim Crow South, after one decides to pass for white. Bennett balances the literary demands of dynamic characterization with the historical and social realities of her subject matter.”—The New York Times
About the Author | Brit Bennett
Social Media: @britrbennett
Author Bio from Amazon Author Profile: Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. She is a National Book Foundation "5 under 35" honoree, and her essays are featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.
Publishers Weekly - review