book cover vanishing half brit bennett

‘the vanishing half’ by brit bennett

“People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else”.

This is a beautifully written emotional family story, that not only covers the issue of race but also explores the lasting consequences of choices and decisions people make early in their life and how they shape their future; sometimes pulling them to live as something other then their origins.

Twin sisters

The story is about twin sisters from a small town, Desiree and Stella. Lack of opportunities in their town push them to one day go to the city to find a new life for themselves. They both promised to each other they will never go back, but after few years later, Desiree returns to her mother’s house with a child by her side. Stella on the other hand, disappears leaving her sister behind to live a life of a white woman. Losing her other half, her twin sister, left Desiree heartbroken. She never stopped looking for Stella while living a life she so desperately tried to escape.

Race

I feel that Bennett did a great job exploring the issue of race. Stella in particular is an interesting character. As a reader I found her selfish and racist. She abandoned her true self, left her own sister to live the life as a white woman in hope that it will gives her freedom and provides safety. She never achieved that to the full extent; constantly worried that someone will discover her secret, that someone will find her and expose her past to the perfectly happy white community.

What I really enjoyed, was the the second part of the book that followed the life of their daughters. Each of them went through their own struggles but the real twist to the story happens when their life intersect. Stella will find herself on yet another crossroad and the choice she made may or may not surprise you.

This novel also explores the difficulties of someone who is going through the gender change and how much effort it takes to deal with everyday life in an environment that will never fully accept you as a person.

Finally, this is one of those books that I will read again. Highly recommend it as it explores a lot of issues that will make you think, cry and laugh.

Leave a Reply