The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is easily one of the best reads of 2020. Brit Bennett really out did herself with this one. The way she weaved The Vanishing Half together is nothing but spectacular.
I can promise you this review is going to be kept very, very pretty.
First a quick word from the author. . .
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?
The Vanishing Half Review
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet dives into one the of African American community’s best kept secret – colorism. Colorism is a word that issue so well hidden that even our dictionaries don’t recognize it. It’s too taboo to talk about or better yet, even acknowledge exists. I can tell you from first hand knowledge as a dark skinned black woman, it’s real and it’s vicious.
The Vanishing Half is centered around identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella. They are African American women who can easily pass for white women. Think of Mariah Carey if that helps you understand how a black woman can look white. All I have to do is think of my grandma, who used to pretend she was white all the time in the 40’s and 50’s, that would work too.
Desiree decided to live her life in her truth as black woman while Stella did the opposite and pretended to be white. They both went on to have children, Desiree with a black man and Stella with a white man. While Desiree’s daughter looked her black father in skin tone, Stella had a little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.
As reality set in for both women, Desiree realized early on that her dark skinned daughter would eventually live a life of extreme biases and cruelty because of her skin tone. While Stella’s daughter goes on to live a life of privilege because she looked like an everyday white girl.
Little did either women know that one day their worlds would collide and their children would be the casualties.
Just a wee bit more of The Vanishing Half
“Lord, I never seen a child that black before.”The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard this growing up. As the darkest one in my immediate family to one of only three very dark people in a family of over 100 aunts, uncles, cousin, etc. my darkness was often the topic of conversation or some cruel joke.
There was a beauty and sense of peace I found within the pages of this novel that made me feel heard as a dark skinned black woman. There was also hope. Hope in the thought that someone else who has never experienced colorism to gain a deeper understand of the silent battle.
“You’re really lucky, you know. Your men usually like the light girls, don’t they?”The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Micro-aggressions like the one above are very common from white America do nothing to aid in mending racial divides. This is a hurtful statement and one I have heard dozens of times. I’ve heard this all my life and each time, I feel a little bit of a sting. Not only for myself but for little black girls who feel less than. Let’s work together to ensure that no other little black girl feels like a mistake or a that she is being punished because she is dark.
Most Important Question
Do I recommend this book? I do, I do, I really freaking do.
Will I read another book by this author? Yes, I’m already getting ready to read her previous novel, The Mothers by Brit Bennett.
I kept my promise, no mess! Check out more reviews here.
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