Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Vanishing Half; Brit Bennett

 

The Vanishing Half; Brit Bennett
Riverhead Books - 2020

The Vanishing Half is a stunning novel about family, community and racial identity.

The Vignes sisters: Desiree and Stella are identical twins, light-skinned black girls who grew up poor in the deep South.  Their father was shot and killed by white men in the 1950s.  As teens the sisters had dreamed of a different life for themselves and at the age of 16 they decide to leave home.  

It isn't long before their lives take separate paths. Stella leaves Desiree in New Orleans in hopes of a more perfect life and, although initially unintended, Stella lives life as a white woman, a life built on secrets about her past.  She marries a white man and has a white-skinned daughter. Meanwhile, Desiree, never stops missing her twin sister, losing contact with her but hoping that they will somehow, sometime reconnect.  Desiree marries as well, to a black man, and despite a bad marriage to a violent man, feels blessed to have a daughter, Jude, a very dark-skinned girl. 

The story which spans several decades is told from the POV of the twin sisters and later the POV of their 2 daughters, Jude and Kennedy.  A multi-layered, character driven novel about sibling relationships, identity, race, class, transgender sexuality, prejudice and more.  The author does an amazing job with her characters, who are difficult to forget.  This is one of those books that will stay with me a long time. So much to discuss; be sure to recommend it for a book discussion. I loved it.

5 star read

24 comments:

  1. I've got a copy of this one and will read it after a while. I'm betting that the afternoon book group that I attend will want to try this one or maybe I'll suggest it. Might be a while before it's got a less long hold list at the library though. Nice review, Diane.

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    1. Kay, our book group has several members who can only read large print so we only read books that are available through the library system. As a result, we tend to read books that came out a few years earlier, that are no longer in high demand.

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  2. This one sounds better every time that I read something about it. I can't believe I had it in my hands for two weeks and couldn't read it before it was due back to the library. It had such a long waiting list that I didn't have the heart to hold on to it even a few days past due, especially now when books are more important than ever to avid readers.

    So, I'm back in line for another few weeks. It was one of those times when four or five library holds came in at the same time. I had to set priorities, but it looks like I messed up.

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    1. Sam, I'm sorry you had to return this unread; such a good story. If you still do buy some books, this is one to consider owning.

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  3. This one is on my reading list and I will be getting to it soon. I've read so many reviews of it this summer and they've all been extremely positive, just like yours, so I am looking forward to it.

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  4. I loved the secondary thread even more than Desiree and Stella's story. Jude and Reese. What a pair. I really enjoyed Reese's character. Bennett said she revived his character from a short story she wrote so he lives on elsewhere but I could have read just about them. So much to consider and discuss. The whole idea of "passing" and the way it affects those around you. I'm not sure what I expected when I picked it up. I purposely waited for the hype to die down but I was pleasantly surprised when I turned that last page. And her next book is about divas if I am remembering her interview correctly.

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    1. Ti, Jude was my favorite character and wow...yes her and Reese were quite a story (plenty to discuss there). I have Mothers by this author on my Kindle so want to read that now as well.

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  5. WOW, that sounds really good and quite interesting.

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  6. Great review! I may add it to my every growing TBR list.

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  7. I've wondered about this one. Thanks for a review that renews my interest!

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  8. I'm so glad you loved it! I read that HBO will be making an adaptation for TV, which I'm looking forward to watching.

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  9. I am eager to read this one. I'm very glad to see that you enjoyed it so much.

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  10. I agree there was a lot in this novel .... and I liked its various characters and layers. I thought it was well done and the storytelling was good!

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  11. Yay! You liked it! It was certainly multi-layered and I thought the author did that really well.

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  12. Wonderful review! I'm eager to give this a listen and maybe recommend it to my book group. It seems like one that would generate a good discussion.

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  13. I was hoping my book group would choose this one for next month, but we went in a different direction, but it looks like I should make time for it.

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  14. I read her first book and do want to read this. I'm excited to read it!

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