The Vignes twin 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: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
This book was both intriguing and well written. It is very firmly a historical fiction book, which I did not realize when I started. But honestly, the book was so good! This book was overwhelmingly good. There was very little about this book that I had an issue with. In fact, it was a rather brilliant book. I wanted to talk about some parts of the book that really stood out to me and made the book shine; I will also do a brief overview of what parts of this book that did not work for me in the end. In any case, I highly recommend it for people who like historical fiction.
I absolutely loved the writing in this book. It was so smooth and well written. I got invested from the very first moment I started it. We had an outside perspective to start with, to introduce the plot of the book before we get into the POVs of the four woman. And those POVs were well done and well written because each were so distinct.
The one part of the book that I didn’t super love was I felt that there were some pacing issues with the book. I felt parts of it dipped into extraneous information that slowed down the pace of the book. But overall in the grand scheme of things this was so small that it didn’t detract from the book overall.
On the other hand the slow pacing of the book lent itself to the atmosphere of the book. This book was a slow burn all around. We also get a look at the characters of this book through that; we get to know these characters, we get to feel with them. As a reader we get to understand them and where they come from. There are a lot of reasons that this slow paced and slow burning worked for this book, because the content itself was quite heavy.
This book takes place really between the 1960s and the 1980s – and it incorporates all the issues that cropped up between those dates, and integrates them into the story to give the characters life. It also displays both the changes in the generations but all the ideas. But it also still gives lots of depth to the issues of those times. There were some heartrending moments in this book that really struck me.
This was a story of family, of racism and it all combined to make a story that is so rich. Honestly, there is much to rave about in this book. This book touches on topics such as racism, passing, trans people, and family relationships. It was all well done and so well written.
I honestly think that this book is still so relevant today, even if it takes place so long ago. These are issues that still happen today.
Overall, this was a fantastic book and really liked it!
lynching, death of parents, Alzheimer’s, racism, domestic violence/abuse, transphobia, sexual assault