My Review | The Vanishing Half

Photo shows the book cover of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet - Photo by Peri McKinnis - Peri Reads -

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 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?

Twin girls run away from their small town and one sister comes back while the other one lives her life with a completely different identity? Honestly I didn’t know where the author was going with that but let me tell you I was not disappointed. We are introduced to our main characters, sisters Desiree and Stella, as they go about their life in Mallard. One day they get sick of living our their days in a small town plagued with pain and decide to run away to make something of themselves. Years pass by and Mallard still remains, as if the presence of these girls left no mark, until Desiree comes back. Stirring back all the drama that the town was trying to suppress. But she didn’t come alone, she came with her own daughter, both in need of shelter. Proving that no matter how far you’ll go your past will come back to haunt you. And if you don’t learn from them you’re destined to repeat them.

“She hadn't realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”

Stella on the other hand lives a completely different life. As she uses her fair skin to her advantage, she has gone undercover to join a new world, as a white woman. We get to see Stella experience a whole new set of privileges that she has never experienced before and we see her blend in perfectly. However she has numerous challenges in front of her to keep her facade going. She has to abandon her family, she has to let go of her past, but again the past has a way of coming back. I loved how Bennett kept up with all the strings that the sisters have created for themselves and intertwine them through each chapter. It’s almost as if a little bit of each sister is involved with their choices. One simple decision of running away from home started a chain reaction of mistakes and deceptions that they try to run away from.

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The interesting part about these two sisters is that no matter how hard they try, the two always find a way to stay connected. Their daughters manage to run into each other, their interests overlap, proving that your past is not as far away as you think it is. Stella and Desiree did what they can to stay away from Mallard but at the cost of their relationship. Well, more Stella than Desiree but her guilt is apparent throughout the book. Which I thought was sincere instead of forced. While you want to be mad at Stella for abandoning her sister to pretend to be “white” there were moments where I felt sorry for her. Not as much as Desiree but it was stressful reading Stella’s scenes and feeling like at any moment she’ll be caught. But both sisters have these character traits that almost brings them to life. Which I enjoyed about them they were fully human. They wanted to run away from their small town and make a name for themselves. But sometimes you have to sacrifice a lot more than just your childhood home. 

“A town always looked different once you'd returned, like a house where all the furniture had shifted three inches. You wouldn't mistake it for a stranger's house but you'd keeping banging your shins on the table corners.”

Bennet perfectly creates these sisters as their own beings and her story building is truly unmatched. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time wondering if Stella’s veil would be lifted or what Desiree was going to do. It’s an interesting take on a family story that deals with race and gender issues all while having heart warming moments. I enjoyed learning along with the characters and felt they were authentic with any choice they made or anything they said. I felt like I was watching a movie and every twist and turn took me by surprise. A beautiful work of art and I truly enjoyed every last chapter.






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Hey! I’m Peri McKinnis

Peri McKinnis of Peri Reads

I’m a creative, I’m a dreamer, and I’m an Aries. I’ll read any book with enough convincing, I enjoy weird movies, and I’m a caffeine fiend. From the day that I brought my first book catalog home from school I knew that books were going to have a special place in my heart. Now I want to spread that love here, to talk about the books that made us cry, fall in love, and scorn because we couldn’t finish them.