Books

‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett

Review:

Guys…. I was underwhelmed 😦

The first two parts of this book were seriously dragging, I couldn’t get into it. Then part 3 got juicy.

I enjoyed the entire concept of the book, the writing was BEAUTIFUL but the execution was lackluster. 

It hit me in part 5 that while Stella was meek in the first parts of the book, she becomes self-assured as soon as she dons her whiteness. Desiree, on the other hand, has her self-assuredness “beaten” out of her by a dark skin black man.

We see Desiree as the confident trouble maker in the first few parts, who then become meek as a result of her husband, beating it out of her. So from part 3 onwards, you see the twins switch places and confidence levels as a result of race.

Stella was an annoying character, but she embodies the societal need to fit in. By going above and beyond and renouncing everything you are, just to fit in.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reese’s role in this book, it was like he was included to show that while Stella was doing everything to be someone she wasn’t, Reese was doing everything he could, to be himself. 

I can’t help but think that this book and the point of this book may be missed entirely? I truthfully thought this book would make the readers understand where colourism stems from, how it is wrong and how it stems from slavery. 

I can see comments saying “How could Stella do that?” etc etc. when the real question is, the world we live in is one where Stella needs to do that. Don’t get me wrong, Stella is an absolute bitch, but she is definitely a product of societal pressure.

The execution, again, was an issue for me. The ending of the book was predictable and not one to desire. 

3/5

Synopsis:

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.

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