The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

Desiree and Stella are identical African American twins born in the south in the 1950’s. Stella is light in color as opposed to her sisters darker coloring. At the age of 16, they run away together to St Louis, however soon separate with different thoughts on their own identity. Stella decided to live her life as white and non are the wiser. She marries a white man and has a white daughter. Desiree finds a man darker than she and has a dark skinned daughter. Living apart and with separate lives – will their worlds ever connect again?

You ever read a book you really really want to like – and just find it doesn’t click for you?

I read this for our Book Club and was looking forward to the book that was receiving positive attention and hitting best sellers lists everywhere. I listened to this one on audio, fair warned by a friend that it had a slow start – yet it never did connect for me.

At first I thought it was my attention (or lack there of) to it – its been busy around here and perhaps I was not in the right frame of mind to listen to a book. However many of the girls in my book club were saying the same thing I was- some from audio and some from book format, finding it hard to follow, dragging in parts, and disjointed.

Not all would agree. A couple of girls in the discussion found the book thought provoking, and still thinking of it long after the final page was turned. We did have a good discussion on the books title and how it was an appropriate fit.

My personal thoughts are that I found it interesting, but not a “WOW”. It held my attention, yet at the same time it felt that it jumped here and there and I would struggle to catch up trying to figure out how this was relevant. In the end – I finished, but I can not say I enjoyed the book. Good reads and Amazon have strong positive ratings on this book, clearly I am in the minority on this one.

If you have read the Vanishing Half, what were your thoughts on the book? I would love to hear them!

15 thoughts on “The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

  1. I really enjoyed it, although I think I might have read it before it was so massively hyped, which helped me adjust expectations. I did find there were a few coincidences with the second generation, but then there had to be to shape the story. I loved the way it updated older fiction like Nella Larsen’s “Passing” and had such diversity. (Oh actually picking up my review to link here, it seems I was reading it along with half the world back in June!!)

  2. I have this book waiting on my print book shelf…and now I have mixed feelings. I am sorry you were disappointed…but after I read it, I’ll come back and share my thoughts. Maybe I will love it? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Laurel, I hope you do read it and share. I really was surprised that most of my book group felt the same as I did. I was certain I would be in the minority. I would love to hear your thoughts once you have read it.

  3. I listened to the audio version and was intrigued by how the two sisters came to live such divergent lives.

    About half way through I was weary of it and read online summaries to learn how it turned out without having to invest anymore time.

    1. Hey Brona! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it and I am going to check out your review. Our book discussion was quite engaging as well and definitely some worthy topics to pull from the pages – just when it came to final thoughts… all but a few rated it quite low.

  4. I really liked this novel and perhaps it helps that I read it before the hype began so I didn’t go in expecting perfection. I did like the earlier parts of the book more than the later parts.

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