Book Review – The Vanishing Half

Title: The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Goodreads Rating: 4.34

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Source: Hardcover

Synopsis:

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. Ten 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.

My Review:

I’d like to begin by saying a huge thank you to Hannah @thebearcametoo over on Twitter for gifting me a beautiful, signed copy of this book. I have never won a book giveaway before and so this book will forever be special to me. Having said that I was really worried about reading this book. Through the summer I have seen so many great reviews and I was concerned that for me it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

Fortunately I feel this book deserves all the hype and it was as great as I’d hoped it would be. The story focuses on the Vignes twins and their journey after they escape their home town Mallard. I loved the opening and how it back tracked through history explaining what happened to Desiree and Stella. Whilst they were obviously close I found the choices each of them made fascinating. In my opinion Stella was her most relaxed during the chapters with Loretta, that storyline showed that some of the old Stella was still there. I still can’t believe the lengths she went to protect her secret and it is so sad to see someone who ultimately couldn’t accept herself because she grew up in a town where she wasn’t. I loved learning about the black history in the 1950’s and it still amazes me how recent this all was. Whilst I had expected to learn a lot about the twins journeys and relationship I hadn’t expected to fall in love with their daughters.

Kennedy and Jude were my favourite characters, both dynamic and memorable. Out of the two I found Jude’s story most interesting. Growing up in a world where she wasn’t accepted must of been incredible hard but she remained resilient and wouldn’t let any barriers prevent her from succeeding. Kennedy reminded me of Desiree. She was tough, ambitious and rebellious, never wanting to fit the mould. Everything from how these two characters met and how their lives intersected was perfect.

There was a lovely mix of secondary characters. Early, Mama, Reece and Barry were all great additions that all brought something different to the book. I really liked Early and what he did for Desiree throughout the book, he was a true knight in shining armour. Reece journey was also interesting, he reminded me of Stella. He too had escaped where he lived and wasn’t comfortable in his own skin.

My only gripe with the book was between Stella and Blake. I would of loved to see some revelations or confrontations between them. He almost seemed oblivious to everything.

This was a story of history, race, love and discovery and one that shall stay with me. The bittersweet ending was the cherry on top and I couldn’t think of a better way for it to have gone.

I now have one prompt left before I can submit my advanced reads for Team Stitch and I have 6 stamps on my coffee card! I’m really enjoying these readathons and with a week to go I’m doing one last push to get my remaining reads completed!

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