This review does not contain any spoilers.
The Vanishing Half is a brilliant, intergenerational novel that explores the intersections of race, gender, class and colorism. From the 1950s to nearly the 1990s, Bennet tells the story of the Vignes twins, who were inseparable as children but ultimately chose to live in two different worlds: one Black and one white.
The Black twin sisters’ skin is so light that they can pass for white. As a little girl, Stella Vignes discovers this and likes how she is treated by others when she is assumed to be white. Many years later, Stella moves across the country and changes her racial identity to white while her twin Desiree Vignes continues to identify as Black.
Bennett tells the life story of the twins and the reader is shown how the other half lives. Although the twins are far a part in distance, their fate remains intertwined as their daughters stumble upon one another and begin to search for the truth behind Stella’s life.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel is extremely timely. It resonated with me as a Black woman because it details how it feels to live in the skin society has conditioned us to be ashamed of.
The Vanishing Half is also written in third-person which aligns with the novel’s theme and message. The reader is told the story of the twins from how the world sees them and not how they see themselves.
Bennett’s style, deep and rich characterization and imagery is outstanding. It’s no surprise that HBO made a 7-figure deal with Bennett for the adaptation of the book into a limited series.
The Vanishing Half is a timely, impeccable story that I wish never ended. It’s truly captivating and one of the best and most rewarding books I’ve read in a long time. I rate it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.