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The Vanishing Half

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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  149,626 ratings  ·  14,896 reviews
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA Book Club Pick

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
...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published June 2nd 2020 by Riverhead Books
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Damien Roberts I think Reese was involved in the story to juxtapose Stella's desire to pass and lie about who she is in order to ensure her safety and freedom, while…moreI think Reese was involved in the story to juxtapose Stella's desire to pass and lie about who she is in order to ensure her safety and freedom, while Reese was almost doing the opposite. His desire to be himself even though (especially given the time) it was so dangerous to be a Black transman. Plus both had left their original lives in order to lead vastly different ones.(less)
Maria Jude avoided swimming in that river as a girl because she didn't want her skin exposed to the critical eyes of the Mallard residents. Reese had also b…moreJude avoided swimming in that river as a girl because she didn't want her skin exposed to the critical eyes of the Mallard residents. Reese had also been unable to reveal his skin. Their shedding of clothes and enjoying the water and sunshine serves to show how they have grown comfortable in their own skin. (less)

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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  149,626 ratings  ·  14,896 reviews


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Roxane
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Completely absorbing. Intricate prose. Deep characterization. Bennett exceeded my expectations with her second novel.
Nilufer Ozmekik
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
News flash: HBO and Brit Bennett made a 7 figure deal for the adaptation of the book into limited series!🎉🎈

Wowza! This is unique! This is impeccable! This is perfectly written and I wished it never ended, pushed myself to read it slower, rereading some chapters over and over! It’s phenomenal and one of the best readings of the year!

Welcome to Mallard/Louisa: small town can be hardly found ( or never found) on your maps: maybe you may accidentally find there during your unluckiest hitchhiking exp
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Kat
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
*clears throat* *tries to summon some intellect* in a few sentences: brit bennett's intricate plot lines and ability to weave family dramas that stretch through years is definitely something to be admired. my only wish is that her characters would jump off the page a bit more rather than just remain vessels/outlines for her stories to play out through. however, this book deserves much of the hype it has received, and i think the complex look it provides at race, identity, and motherhood (among o ...more
Cindy
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although the first 1/3 of the book was slow, once we start to see how two generations diverge and they connect later on, I became invested in each person's individual journeys as they grappled with race, loneliness, colorism, abuse, motherhood, and a sense of identity. I enjoyed reading about these women and also adored the male side characters (Reese makes me so soft!) It’s a poignant and lovely story that takes you through several lifetimes with empathy and hope.
Chelsea Humphrey
I'm not sure I have words for how excellent this book turned out to be, but terms such as "breathtaking, poignant, and ultimately hopeful" come to mind. I was constantly reminded of the golden oldie movie Imitation of Life (1959) in regards to the discussions surround race, class, and gender, while also featuring a plot thread where a light skinned Black teenager is living her life passing as white. If you are wary of the hype, like I typically am, please know this is one instance where the subs ...more
karen
oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best historical fiction 2020! what will happen?

There were many ways to be alienated from someone, few to actually belong.

i know it looks like i’m over here five-starring a lot of books in a row all of a sudden, but it’s not so much that i’ve lucked into a run of excellent reading choices as it is me finally sitting down to review books so good it's been intimidating me to even think about reviewing them.

ALTHOUGH—if we’re being super-duper honest, Black
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Meredith
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
“She was always inventing her life.”

Twin sisters. Two different paths: One chooses black. The other white. Their choices reflect societal norms, gender constructs, and racial inequality in contemporary America.


Stella and Desiree grow up in Mallard, LA. Mallard, a town comprised of light-skinned black people, has a fascinating history. I could read a whole book just about Mallard. When the sisters run away to New Orleans, they see their escape as a time to reinvent themselves: "Stella became whit
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Jayme
3.5

Two Black twins, so “light” they could “pass” for White.

And, this story exploring “ PASSING” - a term I was not familiar with.

One of the twins will choose to do just that-live life as a White woman.

Her husband will never know the truth.
She will not get to celebrate milestones with her twin sister or mother.
She will not be able to share her heritage with her own daughter.

I found this book to be profoundly SAD.

IMAGINE believing that it would be worth LOSING all of that, to be WHITE?

I enjoye
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Angela M
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a thought provoking story and a few scenes were not easy to read. There’s racism here, a violent incident against a man, witnessed by his young twin daughters, and more trauma for one of the girls than we want to imagine. This and their upbringing in a small black community in Louisiana where people believe the lighter they are the better life will be. So it wasn’t a surprise that when twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes run away at sixteen, that their futures would take them on journ ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sooooo GOOD!!!

...Pathos and Pain....
...Profound Thoughtfulness...
...Spellbinding prose....
...Surprises I never saw coming...
...A book that kept me interested and curious from start to finish...
...Filled with substantial depth and insights.

Brit Bennett brings to life characters that made me desperately want to vanish into the her storytelling world.

Meet twin sisters, Desiree and Stella Vignes. They grew up in a Black Community - a town so small - it couldn’t be found on a map: Mallard, Louisian
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Danielle
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
August 2020 F.A.B. Bookclub Pick. # I.❤️. F.A.B.

I was excited that this was our bookclub pick for this month. 🤗 I’ve read so many fabulous reviews about the important messages this book has to offer. It tells a story of a set of twins, who runaway at 16. They take two different paths in life. Not giving much away- it was a great read. 👍I’d say I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half. The messages are definitely good: Family is family, acceptance of who you are is important
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Jessica Woodbury
3.5 stars. I enjoy Bennett as a writer, but I felt like this book didn't come all the way together. I wanted it to either be a more focused book with half the plot or to really go big and have more about all the characters.

At first it feels like this book is going to be entirely about colorism and the strange town of Mallard, Louisiana where light-skinned Black people have effectively segregated themselves. The story begins here, with the story of twins Stella and Desiree, who grow up and then
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marilyn
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett features black twin sisters, whose skin is so light that they can pass for white. The sisters have always been close, almost like one person, even though they are so different, in personalities. When they are sixteen, they escape their small Louisiana town, to make new lives in New Orleans. At some point, Stella is able to get a job working for a white man and she envisions real freedom, if she abandons everything about her past and passes as a white person. He ...more
Debra
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
"You could never quite get used to loneliness..."

Identical twin sisters, Desiree, and Stella Vignes were born in Mallard, Louisiana, a town so small it cannot be found on the map. They have witnessed atrocities inflicted upon their father at a young age. They decide to run away from their southern black community at the age of 16 and start over in New Orleans. Years later, Desiree returns to her hometown with her young daughter while her twin sister Stella, is living as a white woman and her
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Bookishrealm
Soooo...first I gave this book 4.5 stars. I have no idea where to even begin with my review.

The Vanishing Half is such a complex and timely novel. Colorism and being "white passing" has been and still remains a hot topic of discussion in the Black community. Brit Bennett brings both of these conversations to the forefront in a interesting way. The novel focuses on twins, Desiree and Stella, who grow up in a small town where they are forced to quit school at the age of 16 to help provide an inco
...more
Yun
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In The Vanishing Half, twins Desiree and Stella couldn't wait to leave behind the small, black town they've grown up in. At sixteen, they finally seize their chance and run away. More than a decade later, the twins have lost touch with each other. One comes back to town with a black daughter, while the other lives across the country, passing for white while hiding her past. But can she really escape her heritage and where she comes from? As time goes on, their respective daughters realize they c ...more
Liz
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is getting a lot of buzz, so I was pleased that our book club chose it and gave me an excuse to pick it up.
I had just finished The Warmth of Other Suns and this novel fit nicely onto its back. What hit me first is that racism is so ingrained in our culture that even among blacks, light is better. Desiree and Stella Vignes are identical twins, raised in a small town in 1950s Louisiana. They are light skinned in a town of other light skinned blacks. They run away at age 16, first to New
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Marchpane
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Vanishing Half is a quintessential book club book. That might sound pejorative, but please trust me, I don’t mean it to. It’s a really, really good book that just happens to be a perfect storm of all the things that book clubs generally like.

This novel is getting a LOT of buzz, so that’s a good start. Book clubs like things that are buzzy. It also sits comfortably in either the literary fiction or commercial fiction category, so it has a broad appeal. Plus, it’s topical and endlessly dis
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Esil
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ew
So well written and so interesting! I’ve never read anything by Britt Bennett but this won’t be my last. The story focuses on twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, and their daughters, Jude and Kennedy. The twins come from Mallard, Louisiana, where having light skin is greatly valued. The twins’ skin is light enough that Stella decides to “pass” as white and disappears from Desiree’s life in the late 1960s when they are in their early 20s. The story then moves back and forth in time and from the dif ...more
Gabby
This book was so beautiful. I love stories that follow sisters, and after loving The Mothers I knew I had to check this book out. Brit Bennett has such a beautiful way with words, and I love that this book covers sooo many different important topics. The family dynamic in this book is so strong, and I was completely fascinated by Stella and Desiree's story and how they were still so connected even after being apart for years. They were brought up in a small town where every Black resident is so ...more
Larry H
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

The Vanishing Half , Brit Bennett's second novel, is powerful and incredibly relevant given the moment our society is in right now.

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

Stella and Desiree Vignes grew up in Mallard, Louisiana, a town whose population is composed of immensely light-skinned African-American people. They're actually descendants of the founder, but their lives were traumatized by their witnessin
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Diane S ☔
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
From the Jim Crow south to the wealthy environment of Brentwood, the story follows two twin sisters as they travel different paths. A small town called Mallard that is not found on any map, known for their light skinned negroes. Not seeing much of a future, when the twins turn sixteen they take off for the big city of New Orleans. From there their lives will diverge and their relationship will never be the same.

Identity, decisions, fate and prejudice are the main themes explored within. How is i
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Brandice
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I read a book as fantastic as The Vanishing Half, I am in awe of how some authors come up with ideas for their stories. This one by Brit Bennett is unique, a concept that isn’t wildly far-fetched but certainly one I hadn’t considered before.

Desiree and Stella Vignes are twins who flee their small town of Mallard, Louisiana at age 16 in search of more from life after they witnessed a brutal beating resulting in the death of their father by white men. The girls are so light-skinned that Stel
...more
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Book Club Gem!!! This is a June pick for many book clubs, including The Traveling Friends Goodreads Reading Group! It makes for such a fantastic group read as it is timely, and there is so much to think about and discuss.

As a reader, I love stories that allow me to think for myself and dig deep into the depth of the story, and that is what I did with this one. I often dig deeper, then most of my friends in our group read and sometimes talk to myself. Lol What I got out of this story was not wha
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Beth and I buddy read The Mothers and The Vanishing Half back-to-back. Both books are top notch, more than five star, literary fiction at its finest.

We read The Mothers first, and what struck me most There is how tenderly Bennett draws her male characters. Her storytelling was impeccable and so emotional.

With The Vanishing Half, she did all of that and then some because the story within TVH is more complex, containing more main characters and time periods. Her male characters are just as tenderl
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Debbie
Still on the old pogo stick!

Here I am, still bouncing away! How can this be? Two back-to-back 5 stars! Well, I’m here to tell you, I couldn’t give this book any less than 5 stars. It has everything I love in a novel—a unique and well-paced plot; complex characters whom I cared about; a saga that I was totally invested in. It’s a nice hefty saga, in fact, one that sprawls and drew me in: It spans several decades—the 1950s to the 1990s—and moves back and forth from the South to California. I was c
...more
Maxwell
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-authors
Went to find myself, she wrote. I’m safe. Don’t worry about me. The language bothered Stella most of all. You didn’t just find a self out there waiting—you had to make one. You had to create who you wanted to be.

Brit Bennett has created something so beautiful and messy in this novel. We follow twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, from their small town of Mallard, Louisiana. It's a town of light-skinned black people, where lightness is revered and darkness is vilified. As they grow up and grow a
...more
Dem
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it
A beautifully written family drama story about race and passing for white, that is thought provoking and compelling. A book that explores many themes, such as racial identity, motherhood, family, growing up, sisterhood and discrimination

A story of identical twins, Desiree and Stella, spanning the 1950s to the 1990s from the Deep South of America to California. Desiree and Stella are itching to escape from the small town of Mallard, where all the inhabitants are black people who could easily p
...more
JanB
4.5 stars
The Vignes twins are identical but they couldn’t be more different in personality. This is the story of light-skinned black twins whose lives take very different paths.

The twins grew up in the odd little fictional southern town of Mallard where the blacks found dark skin undesirable. The lighter they were, the better, and the dark-skinned blacks faced discrimination from the light-skinned ones.

As young children, the twins endure a trauma when they see their father lynched by white m
...more
Michelle
One of the best books of 2020 hands down.

The Vanishing Half reminds me of The Guest Book in how well written and quotable it is. It was a very similar reading experience. I was so moved by this story and just sat in awe the entire time I read it. I think I said in my Instagram review that I was put in a zombie trance from the very first page and that is a fact.

I was fortunate enough to have won a copy of this from an Instagram contest and be included in a discussion and Q&A with other readers a
...more
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Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later 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 debut novel The Mothers was a New York Times bestseller. Her seco ...more

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