The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Posted by Kiarni Sperling on

4.5 / 5

Themes

  • Historical - (1950s to 1990s)
  • Identity
  • Contemporary fiction
  • Class & Privilege

Overview

Born and raised in a small town called Mallard, twin sisters Stella and Desiree grow up in a community consisting of primarily coloured people. This community being one with the belief that the lighter your skin is, the easier your life will be. At 16 years of age, feeling trapped in the cycle of their own lives, the Vignes sisters decide to embrace their opportunity of running away from home. All in desperate hope of finding their identities, as well as creating entirely new people out of themselves. Yet with the twins so “light” they could “pass” as white, their contrasting desires eventually split the path they once both shared. One choosing black, the other choosing white. Throughout the book we uncover the ways in which the twins' lives intertwine and what events eventually impact them the most.

Review

I can immediately start off by saying that Brit Bennet is a beautiful storyteller. The ways in which she interlaces alternating point of views is heavenly to read. This novel tells a complex narrative of the deep and thorny reality of privilege, while covering a wide spread of crucial and timely topics like race, gender, class and sexuality. The transgender representation provided in this book is extremely influential, as well as somewhat explanatory for those new to the subject.

However, I do need to point out that this novel is classified as Historical fiction. This genre is one that can feel very slow paced at times - something I sensed at the beginning of the story - yet I think it's necessary for fully understanding the story that is being told, as well as for connecting everything together. Considering this novel is set from the 1950s - 1990s, which is a very vast timeline for a book at its length, I think that it's truly rewarding once you get past the slow bits of the book.

Overall I’d say that this novel is one that is highly relevant during today's age, as well as one that should get the praise it deserves.

Book content warnings:
For those under the age of 14 or 15, be aware that this book discusses mature themes such as racism, sexual assault, transphobia, and domestic abuse.

 

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