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The Vanishing Half: A Novel Hardcover – June 2, 2020

4.4 out of 5 stars 74,081 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of June 2020: Brit Bennett's debut novel, The Mothers—about motherhood, female friendship, and finding love with a broken heart—was one of the most talked-about books of 2016. Four years later, Bennett introduces a new cast of characters, and like her debut, The Vanishing Half examines sisterhood, black identity, and parenthood with compassion and conviction. The Vignes twins grew up inseparable in the ’60s in Mallard, Louisiana, a small town reserved for black residents with light skin. Stella and Desiree Vignes are tall and beautiful, and they dream of lives beyond the lynching of their father and housekeeping for white people, like their mother does. When they flee to New Orleans as teenagers, Stella discovers that she can pass as white, and so begins the fracture that will forever separate the twins. Stella disappears in California and continues to play the part of a white woman, keeping her past a secret from her husband and daughter. After leaving her abusive marriage, Desiree returns to Mallard with her daughter, Jude, who is “black as tar.” Jude, desperate to find a place where she fits in, goes to college in California and discovers she was searching not just for herself but for her mother’s sister. Told in flashbacks and alternating points of view, this novel asks what is personal identity, if not your past. A riveting and sympathetic story about the bonds of sisterhood and just how strong they are, even at their weakest. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Book Review
Editors' pick: Ideal for book clubs, The Vanishing Half shows just how strong the bonds of sisters are, even at their weakest."—Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor

Review

Named a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, USA Today, GQ, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, and Bustle

Praise for The Vanishing Half

“[Bennett’s] second [book], The Vanishing Half, more than lives up to her early promise. . . more expansive yet also deeper, a multi-generational family saga that tackles prickly issues of racial identity and bigotry and conveys the corrosive effects of secrets and dissembling. It's also a great read that will transport you out of your current circumstances, whatever they are. . . Like The Mothers, this novel keeps you turning pages not just to find out what happens.” —NPR

“Bennett’s gorgeously written second novel, an ambitious meditation on race and identity, considers the divergent fates of twin sisters, born in the Jim Crow South, after one decides to pass for white. Bennett balances the literary demands of dynamic characterization with the historical and social realities of her subject matter.”The New York Times

“An eloquent new entry to literature on that most vital of subjects, identity, The Vanishing Half is the novel of the year.”—TIME

“A story of absolute, universal timelessness — a story of what it means to simply be, to grow up and define oneself and reinvent, to negotiate a place in the world. It's also a deeply American story, rigorously engaged with a country's racist past and present, while interrogative of its foundational values, like choice and legacy. For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be….” Entertainment Weekly 
 

 “Beautifully written, thought-provoking and immersive… Issues of privilege, inter-generational trauma, the randomness and unfairness of it all, are teased apart in all their complexity, within a story that also touches on universal themes of love, identity and belonging…  The Vanishing Half, with its clever premise and strongly developed characters, is unputdownable and highly recommended.”  Associated Press

“Bennett pulls it off brilliantly… Few novels manage to remain interesting from start to finish, even — maybe especially — the brilliant ones. But… Bennett locks readers in and never lets them go… Stunning…She leaves any weighty parallels — between, for example, racial and gender determinism — to the reader. Her restraint is the novel’s great strength, and it’s tougher than it looks… The Vanishing Half speaks ultimately of a universal vanishing. It concerns the half of everyone that disappears once we leave home — love or hate the place, love or hate ourselves.” Los Angeles Times
 
“Provides a meditation on the nuance of race that feels important, now more than ever. It’s the kind of novel that demands to be read — a propulsive, heartfelt work that keeps its reader both glued to the page and chastened by the idea that soon the experience will come to an end. . . You can call The Vanishing Half an escape, but it’s a meaningful one.” —InStyle

"My hope is that the warranted praise Ms. Bennett receives for this novel will have less to do with her efficient handling of timely, or 'relevant,' subject matter than for her insights into the mysterious compound of what we call truth: a mixture of the identities we’re born with and those we create."Wall Street Journal
 
“Reinvention and erasure are two sides of the same coin. Bennett asks us to consider the meaning of authenticity when we are faced with racism, colorism, sexism and homophobia. What price do we pay to be ourselves? How many of us choose to escape what is expected of us? And what happens to the other side of the equation, the side we leave behind? The Vanishing Half answers all these questions in this exquisite story of love, survival and triumph.” The Washington Post

“A stunning page-turner… It’s a powerful story about family, compassion, identity and roots… You will be thinking about The Vanishing Half long after you turn the final page.” —Good Morning America

“Brilliant … The Vanishing Half is at once a crowning jewel within that body of work and a standalone achievement that transcends the subject, a deeply human exploration of relationships and one of the most un-put-downable reads of the year." – GQ
 
“Intricately plotted, exceedingly moving story…with insights into the social and cultural history of passing, while telling what is at heart a tender story about sisterhood, identity and, as Bennett said, 'the endlessly interesting question of which elements in our identity are innate, and which do we choose?'"San Francisco Chronicle

“Nuanced and deeply moving, The Vanishing Half is an unforgettable meditation on family, privilege, and belonging.” – Esquire 

“The legacy of Toni Morrison looms large in The Vanishing Half.” – Vox 

“If you’re looking to escape into a fictional story, Bennett brilliantly examines race and identity, family and history, and love and belonging—and it just may make you reflect on the realities of your own.” Forbes

“Breathtaking plot.” People

[The Vanishing Half] is a dazzling mosaic exploring racism, colorism, and the expectations we place on the ones we love the most.”Marie Claire

"I don't think I've read a book that covers passing in the way that this one does . . epic." —Kiley Reid in O, the Oprah Magazine
 
“Here, in her sensitive, elegant prose, [Bennett] evokes both the strife of racism, and what it does to a person even if they can evade some of its elements.”Vogue

“Bennett creates a striking portrait of racial identity in America.” TIME
 
 
“Bennett writes like a master, reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Strout.” —BookPage
 
“One of Bennett’s gifts as a writer is this: Her plots entertain you while her characters make you think. In this case, about race, gender, privilege, and the ways an identity can be built, challenged, and rebuilt.” – Goop

“This is sure to be one of 2020’s best and boldest… A tale of family, identity, race, history, and perception, Bennett’s next masterpiece is a triumph of character-driven narrative.” —Elle
 
“A marvel…The Vanishing Half is an intergenerational examination of identity, and what it’s like to grow up in a body you’ve been conditioned to feel ashamed of. It’s a poignant family story that doesn’t shy away from the intersections of race, class, and gender—all while capturing the reader’s heart and mind in a way only Bennett can.” —The Rumpus
 
"Irresistible ... an intergenerational epic of race and reinvention, love and inheritance, divisions made and crossed, binding trauma, and the ever-present past." —Booklist, STARRED Review
 
"Assured and magnetic. . .Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism…calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. . . .  [a] rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed."—Kirkus, STARRED review
 

"Impressive … This prodigious follow-up surpasses Bennett’s formidable debut."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

The Vanishing Half is an utterly mesmerising novel, which gripped me from the first word to the last. It seduces with its literary flair, surprises with its breath-taking plot twists, delights with its psychological insights, and challenges us to consider the corrupting consequences of racism on different communities and individual lives. I absolutely loved this book.” —Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

“The detail and the feeling showcased in every sentence Brit Bennett writes is breath taking. The Vanishing Half is a novel that shows just how human emotion, uncertainty and longing can be captured and put on paper.” —Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie
 

"A novel of immense, shining, powerful  intelligence.”  —Deborah Levy, two-time Booker shortlisted novelist

“An impressive and arresting novel. Perceptive in its insights and poised in execution, this is an important, timely examination of the impact of race on personality, experience and relationships.” —Diana Evans, the Orange Award winning author of Ordinary People
 

The Vanishing Half should mark the induction of Brit Bennett into the small group of likely successors to Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen..”  —Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Riverhead Books (June 2, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525536299
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525536291
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.24 x 1.21 x 9.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 74,081 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
74,081 global ratings
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Top reviews from other countries

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, brilliantly written novel. An absolute MUST-read, right now.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 4, 2020
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Ralph Blumenau
3.0 out of 5 stars Problems of racial and gender identity
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars So well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 8, 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars So well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 8, 2020
4.75*

What an amazing journey I’ve been on. Not sightseeing, more like “eye opening” moments.

The Vanishing Half will not only enthrall you it will enlighten you.

Twins. One skin colour lighter than the the other. Living in a small village named Mallard.
Based around 1950’s and spanning down to 1990’s.

Just why did these identical twins get split up when running away?
What made them run?

How did one twins life take a course so far in type to their peer?

One sister living a totally black persons life while the other “passing” for white and whites privilegies.

There is racism, there is hate.

The sisters had their school life halted due to a difference in everyday life, they’re mama needed them to work, to bring in money.

Running took the sisters on totally different paths.
One having different relationships and experiences.
The other marrying a white man who thought he had married a white woman.

Both these sisters went on to have a daughter of their own.

There are lots and lots of moments in this story I’d like to share, but, I’d prefer you to experience them whilst reading this book yourself.

I remember the times when cemeteries were split. Deceased white people on one part of the land and black diseased on the other. The upkeep of the graves were done on the white side, but not the black.

It touches on history here.

But the reunion of the sisters I would have loved more emotional, and to see what happened if here husband learnt of the truth or not that she was indeed black.
I’d love a book 2 on this. Following through the next generation.

I’ve not read The Mothers by this author but I’m looking straight at it on my bookshelf so I’m definitely going to be reading that before 2020 has ended.
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Lindsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Storyteller
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2020
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P. G. Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars The Vanishing End
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 2, 2021
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