The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

Large Print - 2020
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sofiathomas013
Apr 15, 2021

Reading this book as a white passing person of color has been extremely inspiring. It is like mixed people have a switch for how they act around their black families, and then how they act in public towards white people. And when the two sisters in this book choose different identities, it is shocking to readers how different their lives turn out, but it isn't that shocking to American black people today. The country can have at times almost an air of segregation that carries on from the time period in the book. But I really enjoyed how the book describes aspects of happiness in both lives of the sisters; it was touching.

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KatG1983
Apr 12, 2021

A really beautiful and moving story of identity and family, and how our choices echo down the years to our children.

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meggos
Apr 05, 2021

The book was good. I had a few confused moments when unsure what was going on in the story line, like going back to Early and Desiree. I like when authors change font style so you know. I was sad at the end to know that Stella was just gone. Twins not reconnecting. But all in all, a good read. I had to remind myself the era they was in at times.

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BeckyR21
Mar 30, 2021

An interesting premise. It moves through the decades quite abruptly at times, although with quite a few fascinating characters, I wanted to keep reading to see how they would fare. The resolution seemed unfulfilled for me, but perhaps that was the author's intention.
Very good, but not a 4star book for me because the ending left me feeling unresolved.

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maipenrai
Mar 29, 2021

First of all I want to state that this book is compelling reading and the characters are well developed. As timely topics, the novel's two main themes deal with hatred of "others" - those who do not have the same skin color or gender identity. We begin with twin sisters so light in skin tone that they can "pass" as white. One chooses to do so. My first reaction was to condemn her but this book begins in the 1950's and 1960's where the girls' father is murdered because he was Black. Sadly, though the situation in the United States is hopefully better, we have just lived thru 4 years of misogyny, racism, & xenophobia fostered by our own "leader". Today in my home of Minneapolis, the trial of Derek Chauvin has just begun. I cannot and feel no one should judge Stella for her choice. In addition to the racism we have the bias against transgender individuals as Jude, Desiree's daughter, falls in love with Reese who is attempting to save for surgery. In the 1980's this was most often kept a secret as this couple chooses to do. Secrets and lies in families seldom lead to good outcomes. Marriage for both women is unhappy - Stella lives in almost constant fear that her secret will be discovered and Desiree has to flee a violent man. I found Jude to be my favorite character and to have fared the best in the book's world. She strives to make a better life for herself as a "blue-black" woman of color and chooses to love regardless of gender. The ultimate message for me was one of hope. Kristi & Abby Tabby

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QAGeek
Mar 25, 2021

Maybe an AARP recommendation?

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ellenorndorf
Mar 22, 2021

This book is about twins-one lives as a black woman, the other, Stella lives as a white woman. The story is very well written. Jude, the black woman's daughter ends up of the U of M in medical school.

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Lucilledaughter01
Mar 17, 2021

It was a good story, but the characters really never came alive for me, so it was just a so-so read. The sections of years just kind of list what happened. And it just ends rather abruptly with Adele's funeral.

ArapahoeJulieH Mar 16, 2021

This captivating novel spans the period of the 1960s – 1990s. Light skinned identical twin sisters, Desiree, and Stella, flee their rural hometown in Louisiana and become runaways at 16. They become estranged after their lives take different paths, each landing on a different side of the color spectrum. Desiree marries a dark-skinned man and eventually returns home after escaping a violent marriage with her young daughter who is also dark skinned. Stella, who lives her life in CA passing for white, also has a daughter. Fast forward several years and the two cousins eventually meet. Highly recommend this fascinating novel and what it reveals about identity and how it is shaped. Thought provoking and great storytelling!

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peacebenow
Mar 13, 2021

This starts out to be the story of twin sisters Desiree and Stella growing up in a small southern town that is under control of Jim Crow rules. They run away to escape the drudgery of the small town. In a short while Stella chooses a "white" life w/o her inseparable twin. Desiree tries to find her own way in life but eventually moves back home. The beginning to me, was the best part of the book. The second section is about the twins daughters, the turns in their lives seems a bit contrived to me, oh well. I certainly appreciate the unfair burden on black people and their struggles to assimilate in the greater society w/ acceptance. Bennett weaves an interesting novel about these struggles, bringing them vividly to life.

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BeatriceLieberman
Mar 09, 2021

I was not notified when it became available. As you can see I originally ordered it in September of last year. I probably put it in hold a few times and lost it.

JCLLaurelA Mar 08, 2021

This was a very captivating read. Desiree and Stella are twin sisters from a small town in the south in the 1960s. They run away from home together for their own unique reasons, landing in New Orleans for about a year. Then, Stella leaves Desiree without any warning, disappearing completely. The sisters don't hear from each other for over 20 years (my memory is fuzzy on the exact timeline), until the small world we live in has their daughters meet. There was an unexpected (from the synopsis on the inside of the cover, anyway) secondary plot of gender/sexuality as well, which I felt was very well written.
I feel like the book's basic themes of "Not feeling comfortable in your own skin (literally and figuratively)" and "don't be jerks to other humans, we're all just trying to stay alive," are very well done. I think we all go through some "I wish I was ____" or "I wish I had ___" moments to some extent, so you will hopefully get something out of this book no matter how your own body is constructed.
I guess my only complaint about the book is that it somehow felt unfinished at the end.

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llewol
Mar 08, 2021

This was a wonderful book. It has much to say about race, about family, about relationships, about gender and much more. And the great thing about it is that all these things are said through the lives of the characters. There is nothing preachy or dogmatic whatsoever. There are four women who are the main protagonists in this novel and each is richly developed. They are all written lovingly by the author and even though each is responsible for for degrees of heartache, there are no villains in this novel. Each of the women have partners and their partners are written with equal depth. And the minor characters are equally memorable. There is not a trope or cliché to be found. The writing in this very satisfying book is fantastic. You end up rooting for almost everyone and it is pure joy to spend time with them.

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graciatrejo
Mar 03, 2021

Bennet was able to capture the intensity of carrying an unwanted inheritance, the impact this has on people's lives, and how they deal with the same issue in a different way. And he points out that all humans have a secret that makes us act as we act, hence the importance of not judging others without seeing that we carry ourselves. A very good reading!
Bennet supo capturar lo intenso de cargar con una herencia no deseada, el impacto que esto tiene en la vida de las personas, y como estas lidian con el mismo asunto de diferente forma. Y nos señala que todos los humanos tenemos un secreto que nos hacer actuar como actuamos, por eso la importancia de no juzgar a los demás sin ver que cargamos nosotros mismos. Una excelente lectura!

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esrobbins
Feb 26, 2021

Another thought provoking read from Bennett. She beautifully captures how life, and the choices you have in life, are different based on your skin color- not just in the 1960’s but in present day too. Bennett did a wonderful job addressing what we give up (and what we get) by the choices we make in our life. This book will stick with me for awhile.

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Clenor2013
Feb 24, 2021

Interesting premise, but fell into HBO miniseries tropes. Would only recommend as a paperback purchase in the airport before a long flight.

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Jperry291
Feb 17, 2021

I related to this book on many levels. I am an African American with a sister who looked very different than me, although we were "Irish twins" born one year apart. African Americans come in many shades of brown including white chocolate. In many homes of color including Latinx, this is a topic discussed often. This is a good story and well told.

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EucaryaM
Feb 06, 2021

HBO and Brit Bennett made a 7 figure deal for the adaptation of the book into limited series.
It is a complex novel that easily could have been 2 or 3 novels, but not complicated to follow.

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SC_bookworm_0
Feb 02, 2021

I wouldn't be surprised to see this book being taught in schools as part of the English curriculum in a few years or so. Bennett is a strong writer, and her book will definitely spark meaningful discussions among students. The story of the Vignes twins is embedded in colorism and race, but Bennet simultaneously comments on other heavy topics such as motherhood, domestic violence, loneliness, identity, and the struggles of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Aside from this novel being really thought-provoking and important during this time, the story of the twins and their family was captivating from start to finish- the characters were complex and fun to read, and the plot was gripping. I would totally recommend this to anyone and everyone!

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thereaderforlife
Feb 02, 2021

A very quick read which kept my interest right from the start. This is a story about the importance of being yourself and the unhappiness that can follow when you're not true to this. Of course, it is not always that simple and that is the underlying current here. The author writes about identical twin sisters who take different paths in life; not always by choice. The subject matter includes societal issues such as race and gender which allows the author to develop the characters and make them believable. I would recommend this book to friends. Another indicator of a decent read is when I place a hold on the author's other novels. Done.

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Dee_BPL
Feb 01, 2021

I very highly recommend this book! Not only does it tackle racial and gender identity issues, it is also a unique story about family, relationships, and the consequences of our choices in life.

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cknightkc
Jan 30, 2021

THE VANISHING HALF is a difficult book for me to rate. It’s an engrossing, ambitious novel that tackles many hot-button topics. Set mostly in the 1960s-1980s America, this generational drama plays out against the backdrop of key events from this period (the Civil Rights Movement, the King/Kennedy Assassinations, and the AIDS Epidemic). It’s easy to see why so many book groups are discussing it. But the more I got into it, I wondered whether author Brit Bennett took on too much (racism, colorism, domestic violence, lynching, transgender issues, class, etc.), leaving little depth. I enjoyed the thoughtful exploration of identity and mother-daughter / sister relationships, especially in the first half when the story focused on identical twins, Desiree and Stella. Though as the plot progressed, it took on a soap opera quality with dramatic reunions and contrived coincidences appealing to some readers, but not me. While I found many interesting quotes in Brit Bennett’s writing (see Quotes), ultimately, for me, THE VANISHING HALF didn't quite live up to its hype.

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Bookworm1136
Jan 30, 2021

4 1/2 star. I really enjoyed this book. In Mallard, Louisiana, twin girls live in the town established for light black people. Stella and Desiree Vignes see their father lynched by white men. When they are teens, they disappear from Mallard and reappear in New Orleans. One decides to live her life as a white woman and lives a very different life than her twin, who marries a black man who brutalizes her and she flees with her black daughter. Years later, the two young cousins meet and discover the long kept family secrets. A very interesting and thoughtful book.

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Wako
Jan 28, 2021

Bennett delivers a thought provoking story built upon the act of passing, but touching on issues of family and identity (race, gender, community) in complex and meaningful ways. The tale spans the 1940s through the 80s and is told from a variety of narrative voices, each compelling and nuanced. This really isn't my typical read, but I found the story to be captivating and rich; highly recommended.

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kellyvigurs
Jan 27, 2021

rec from hillary


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