Review – The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
Spoilers all over the place, watch out!
I’d seen The Vanishing Half in numerous places and requested it on NetGalley but was declined. Which was a bummer as the synopsis was so good that I wanted to read it immediately. The moment I saw it on a Christmas sale, I nabbed it. It ended up being a Buddy Read with Sister In Law.and I must say, it was worth every penny.
The Vanishing Half is a labyrinth of themes on racism, sexism, gender, motherhood, and so much more. It’s a compelling story about black twins who can pass for white, and it delves deep into the complexities of identity.
There’s so much to talk about that I’m going to have to bullet point my thoughts or it will end up as an essay.
Realising Parents’ Flaws: The moment the twins realise their parents are fallible is a turning point in their lives. Stella’s lies and Desiree’s choices have lasting impacts on their own daughters
Love and Relationships From Desiree’s relationship with Early to Jude meeting Reese at university, the book explores the many facets of love. Reese’s struggle with his identity and how it affects his relationship with Jude is particularly poignant
Parenting and Decision Making: Decisions have consequences, positive and negative. Adele’s choice to make her twins leave school and Desiree’s decision to return to Mallard with Jude are pivotal moments. They set the stage for the twins’ diverging lives and the challenges they face.
Motherhood and Expectations: Kennedy’s line to Jude, “mothers want us to live better lives than they did,” encapsulates the essence of motherhood in the book. The expectations mothers have for their children are both a blessing and a curse.
Friendship and Childhood: Stella’s inability to turn chores into bonding opportunities speaks volumes about how our upbringing shapes our friendships.
Hiding and Deflection: Stella’s mastery in changing the subject, especially when it comes to uncomfortable topics, is a survival tactic that her daughter Kennedy picks up on.
The Complexity of Being a Twin : Living with another version of yourself is a delicate balance. The story beautifully captures this duality.
Acting and Passing: The book draws parallels between acting and passing, especially through Kennedy, who is always seeking attention from her mother. “Living a life for so long makes you the person who you’re pretending to be,” she says, and it couldn’t be more accurate.
Truth and Secrets: The book is a web of secrets, and the purpose of revealing these secrets becomes a central theme towards the end. “The by-product or consequences of hiding is the lies,” sums it up perfectly.
The Vanishing Half’ is a complex narrative that tackles a multitude of themes. It’s a book that will make you ponder long after you’ve turned the last page. Highly recommended for those who love intricate stories with deep emotional layers.
4 Stars - Really Liked It