The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett


If you'd ask me to recommend a book that fits perfectly with today's issues, I would say this one, without a doubt.

The Vanishing Half is a mesmerizing novel that deals with the inevitable consequences of racism, family bonds, secrets, the need to be free and the fear to feel stuck, deeply rooted in a place that sees you as something else. Like you don't belong.

I've been historically known for being obsessed with twins: there's something magical about them, the way they can feel each other in ways we could never imagine. I've been surrounded by twins my whole life, from family to friends so it's quite intriguing to read about them too.

This is why I jumped on this book immediately. What I didn't know is that I was putting myself in a world so intricate and filled with the saddest, most enraging American history I could have possibly asked for.

The Vanishing Half weaves together multiple generations of the Vignes family, from the early '50s to the '90s, entangling each other's story in the deepest, most moving and surprising ways possible.

It all starts with Desiree and Stella or, as the people of Mallard call them, the twins. Inseparable as children, but at age 16 they decide to run away and live in two different worlds: one white and one black. Their skin doesn't betray any of them, so while Desiree embraces her blackness, falling for a black man and ultimately giving birth to a black daughter, Stella decides to go on a different path, choosing to be white and starting a life with a white man in a wealthy family and a white daughter. 

They spend years without talking to each other, so much so that at some point you would think Stella is dead, so sad and strong is Desiree's wish to have her back. Because it doesn't matter what path you chose to take, what you leave behind, life catches up with you at some point and in the most bizarre and wonderful ways. That's the magic of twins: you belong to each other even when you forget and when you do forget, the world will never cease to remind you where you belong. For the Vignes twins, this happens the moment their own daughters' storylines intersect.

You can escape a town, but you cannot escape blood. Somehow, the Vignes twins believed themselves capable of both.

With race being the focal point of the story, it's a closer look at how people's judgements can make someone's life so difficult to bear, how who we are has nothing to do with what's inside but everything to do with the colour of our skin and how that could potentially push people to make choices that will change the course of their lives.

I devoured this book like the most delicious salted caramel ice-cream: with excitement and in one sitting, with the burning desire to hold on to it so it would last longer. Filled with the most beautiful and tender writing that strokes your cheek with extra care only to punch you right at the heart, living you breathless, asking for more.

It's s powerful story of strength, hard decisions, dark secrets and love, so much love to keep you full for ages whilst crying your eyes out. It will remind you that things are never only black or white but there's a variety of colours, a whole rainbow to pick and choose if we could only look closer at what's inside this boring shell of ours we call skin.

The jokes were true. She was black. Blueblack. No, so black she looked purple. Black as coffee, asphalt, outer space, black as the beginning and the end of the world.


Title: The Vanishing Half 
Author: Brit Bennett 
Pages: 352 
Genre & Keywords: Fiction 
Publication Date: June 25th, 2020 by Dialogue Books 
Edition: *gifted Hardback 
Find it on: Goodreads | BookDepository 
Chapter92 Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Quick Review: The Vignes twins are inseparable, but after growing up together in a small, southern black community, they run away at sixteen to live very different, separate lives. But the magic of being a twin means you can't really grow away from each other even if you really want to. And after years of wondering about each other, after some choices led to secrets and lies, life catches up with them in a very serendipitous way, when their daughters' storylines intersect.

*this copy has been kindly gifted by Dialogue Books but all opinions are my own.