Rating – 4.88 out of 5
In The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, the Vignes twins grew up in a town where light skin is prized but did not protect them from being black. Once they ran away when they were 16 they began to see the world for what it was, one that might even allow them to become white. While one twin vanishes into whiteness as another finds her way home, this leaves both the twins and their families in a decades-long search for identity and belonging.
I came to The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett with curiosity about the twin that walked away from her earlier life. While I was expecting the book to be about her it was more often about how her vanishing had affected everyone around her. This novel spans a full generation and had a beautiful narrative about how everyone lived and felt during these events.
The part of the book that I wasn’t expecting was how deftly it also included issues of gender identity and the process of transitioning in the early 80s. That period in gender and LGBTQIA+ rights was different than today and Bennett’s ability to engage and tell a compelling, true story about that experience was breathtaking. The Vanishing Half is one of the best-written books that I have read this year and I felt as though I was able to understand a little bit more about these characters’ experiences.
I recommend this book if you’re looking for a novel about family and the complexities of being black in America.
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