Arts & Entertainment

The Vanishing Half: Book Review

Review written by Guinevere Stearns

The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett

Review on The Vanishing Half graphic, made by Guinevere Stearns

If you are looking for a gripping and heartfelt story to read this month, look no further than The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This New York Times #1 bestselling book is about the lives of two twin sisters, Desiree and Stella Vignes. The girls were raised in Mallard, Louisiana, which was populated by light-skinned black people. The town continued with its prejudice as the years grew on and the population became lighter and lighter. The twins were constantly told to stay out of the sun and to never “marry dark.” At the age of 18, the twins decided to run away to New Orleans. It was here that Stella got a job by passing as white, and her life changed forever.  

#1 New York Times Bestseller stamp

This book is a fictional story about racial passing and the effects that it had on the Vignes family. In my opinion, the book had good black representation. It is important to keep in mind that the years throughout the book were the 1950’s to the 1990’s which is a large span of time, and the town that the Vignes family lived in prided themselves on how light-skinned they were. In this fictional town, families went through great measures in order to keep their families “light.” They wore sunscreen out every day so as not to burn, they took lemon baths in the hopes to lighten their skin, and the women wore hats everywhere.  

Personally, I had never read a book that focused on racial passing, nor had I known very much about the effects of it before I read this book. Throughout The Vanishing Half, Stella (the sister that passed as white for most of her life) was looking over her shoulder, terrified of someone who may recognize her for who she really was. Stella refused to talk with other black people and spoke out against a black family moving to her neighborhood because she always thought that a black person would be able to see right through her. The Vanishing Half really went into detail on the effects that Stella’s passing had on them. Her mother said that she was no longer a part of their family, her sister missed her every day of her life, but Stella could never go back to that part of her life.  

About the Author: 

Brit Bennett was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Stanford University. She wrote her first book in 2016, The Mothers, which is another New York Times best-seller. Bennett is a must-read author who creates wonderful works of fiction that pull the reader in with every word.

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