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The Vanishing Half

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  411,723 ratings  ·  35,472 reviews
Twins, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds: one black and one white.

The Vignes 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, including their racial iden
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published July 2020 by Riverhead Books (first published June 2nd 2020)
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  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    The Vanishing Half

    Release date: Jun 02, 2020
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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)

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.23  · 
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     ·  411,723 ratings  ·  35,472 reviews

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    Unpopular opinion. This book was just ok.

    I loved the frenzy surrounding this book, and the gorgeous cover, and all the hype that went along with it, but to me, this book did not live up to its hype. It's too safe.

    This book is a story of twin girls, who come from a very small town called Mallard. The town is so small you can't even find it on a map. However, this town is quite unique, in that each of the inhabitants of this black town are so light, that a passerby might mistake many of them for
    Nilufer Ozmekik
    Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Congrats for its big win as the best historical fiction from Goodreads Choice Awards! At least this time the book I chose is a great winner! 🎈🎉🥂🥳

    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/Lo
    Emily May
    Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: historical, 2021
    That was the problem: you could never love two people the exact same way. Her blessing had been doomed from the beginning, her girls as impossible to please as jealous gods.

    I can see now why everyone is raving about this book. The Vanishing Half has unforgettable characters, complex familial ties, long-lost sisters, tragedy, and romance. Very compelling (I was hooked straight away) and beautifully-written.

    I think this book works so well because the author has very carefully and thoughtfully
    Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    *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
    Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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. ...more
    Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Completely absorbing. Intricate prose. Deep characterization. Bennett exceeded my expectations with her second novel.

    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
    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
    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
    oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best historical fiction 2020! what will happen?


    CONGRATULATIONS, WINNER! goodreads choice awards best HISTORICAL FICTION 2020!

    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 intimidat
    andreea.  (paperrcuts)
    I went into this book with high expectations, considering that I hadn’t seen one single negative review; everyone loved it and found it important and was mind-blown by the quality of the writing.
    But then I read it myself and found, instead, just a story told at the speed of light as the author jumps in time and doesn't tie any end to any of her characters’ life chapters, as well as a plethora of characters out of whom none experience any in-depth analysis or development. I will put it simply:

    Emma Giordano
    Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    4.5 Stars
    Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Angela M
    Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Winner of Best Historical Fiction in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards

    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 sh
    Elyse  Walters
    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
    Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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, even
    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
    Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked)
    I'm thinking 2.5/5

    It was interesting but I was bored as all hell
    Everyone on earth spent the entirety of last year telling everyone else that this book is excellent and brilliant and a must read, and then I showed up deeply and profoundly late to the party only to say the same thing.

    And in case you needed one more person telling you the same thing to push you over the edge - this is truly good stuff.

    I took a while to warm up to it, but basically reading this book is suddenly being adopted into a family and at first you're like "??? what is this what is happe
    Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize 2021

    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 appea
    Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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
    Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
    "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."

    Another good story about sisters. This one is so worth the hype. Different, unique and important.

    *Warnings for domestic violence, sexual assault, racist remarks, Alzheimer's

    In this story, we are able to see racism and discrimination does exist within a community of the same race and colour.

    I find the story quite good, the writing convincing and the c
    Anne Bogel
    Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Finally, a follow-up to Bennett’s smashing debut The Mothers—and it’s worth the wait.

    Identical twins Desiree and Stella grew up in a town so small it doesn’t appear on maps. They’re closer than close, so Desiree is shocked when Stella vanishes one night after deciding to sacrifice her
    past—and her relationship with her family—in order to marry a white man, who doesn’t know she’s black. Desiree never expects to see her sister again.

    The twins grow up, make lives for themselves, and raise daughter
    Jun 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Definitely one of the highligts of my reading experience of this year.
    A seemingly simple story of the Vignes twin sisters, who escape a small town southern town of Mallard, is in fact a beautiful tale of bond and search for identity. 'It is difficult to get to know one sister without knowing the other' is in my opinion the key sentence in this novel. Also, can you really, really hide all your life and cover deep your roots whatever they are? For the price of fear of being unmasked? For the pric
    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
    May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
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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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