Drama, Historical fiction

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This is a book that has been discussed online a lot given the recent (and very delayed) focus on the lives of Black people in America. This book is a straightforward conversation of four different women, each with their own priorities and colours of skin as well as how they define themselves.

This tale is, in the simplest terms, a saga. It begins with the reentry of one of the ‘missing’ twins. They left home a long time ago and the one who vocally denied wanting ever to come back, ends up coming home to stay. The twins are born in a town that prides itself in being the lighter-skinned of the ‘coloured’, it is the 1960s, and it is reminiscent of some similar sentiments in India (still commercially propagated), so I can imagine the scene quite vividly. The twins differ in temperament and how they deal with hurdles. The second half of the book is about the daughters, cousins by blood and have no knowledge of each other. The turns their lives take is simple and almost mundane. The almost is where the catch is. The supporting cast has a varied and rich tapestry of people. We see the times shift marginally, but fears and certain situations hold fast. It was not hard for me to actively dislike one of the twins, despite mildly sympathising with her. There will be no prizes for guessing which one.

There are some very harsh situational truths highlighted in the narrative. In its entirety, it was a great book to read. All four women have distinct voices throughout, not least because of all the factors that make them who they are.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.

4 thoughts on “The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett”

  1. That’s an interesting perspective on it as there is nowhere like this town here in the UK (although colourism does exist of course). I loved this book for its combination of being an easy, attractive read and highlighting all sorts of things.

    Liked by 1 person

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