Do you ever see those books that EVERYONE says are so good and you think theres no way it can be THAT good? …this book is really THAT good. The Vanishing Half took me by surprise in the best way possible, and I can easily see this being a favorite of mine for 2020. Bonus points: its a diverse read.
Title: The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Genres: Historical Fiction
I love the way The Vanishing Half is told. It’s quiet at first and subtle, but it builds layer upon layer until you’re just in awe of how the pieces of this puzzle come together. Those are my favorite types of stories.
This is not young adult, as we usually review on this blog, but rather historical fiction. There are no themes in here unsuitable for a “young adult” though, and I would recommend this to anyone in their teens or older.
At its core, this is a story about race and how America treated Black people from the 1950’s – the early 1990’s (and lets be honest here – present time). It’s both fascinating and horrifying to know how Black people were treated in our grandparents, our parents, and even our own lifetimes.
This is a story of twin girls – both Black, but light skinned. When the twins run away from home, a town that prides itself on its light skinned Black people, at first they live and work together, but eventually Stella finds she can pass as a white person and does just that – nobody the wiser of her past.
They grow up together, but they end up living very different lives. We also see the lives of their daughters, cousins who never knew each other until their worlds also collide. I love seeing in the minds of all the characters in this book. There is such great characterization of everyone!
This story truly transported me to Louisiana and Los Angles, the locations of where the majority of this story takes place. I can’t remember the last time a book (audiobook) sucked me in so completely.
I will also add this story has a transgender character we meet around halfway through, and he is one of my favorites. He is transgender in the 1980’s, that is nothing like we have it today in the 2000’s. His story is amazing to watch unfold and how he is relevant to the story of the twins.
There wasn’t much I disliked about this book, but I did feel the ending left me wanting more. That is usually my dislike about stories – their endings. It’s hard to keep me satisfied with an ending. But that is why my rating is a 4.5 and not a complete 5 stars. We get to know so many characters throughout these years, its hard to give them all satisfying endings unfortunately.
I really enjoyed the audiobook! The narrator was perfect. I think this would be just as good as a print book but if audiobooks are your thing, I would suggest listening to this. It seems long, but it really does go by fast.
I listened on 2.25x speed.
I would highly recommend this book. I went into it not knowing too much about it, and I think that is the best for this story. My review is pretty vague and I think you should experience this one for yourself. If you’re looking to read more diversely, this is a great place to start for any age!