The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

In the Vanishing Half, twin girls are born in a small southern black community where fair skin is admired, and dark skin is shunned. The girls, Desiree and Stella, are as close as twins can be. That is, until they leave home at the age of 16 to find their own way. Initially, they each find work and live together. Then one day, Desiree comes home to a note from Stella which tells her she has left town.

It is now ten years later. Desiree is married and has a daughter Jude. Desiree’s husband begins assaulting Desiree, so she leaves with her daughter and returns to her mother and her hometown. Her daughter, Jude, has the dark skin inherited from her father and feels the wrath of those who feel she does not belong there.

In the meantime, Stella is wrapped in a world of white privilege and secrets. Her world falsely assumes she is white - and she is not about to correct this. She marries and also has a daughter, Kennedy. Kennedy has the blonde hair of her father and striking violet eyes. One day, their worlds change when Kennedy and Jude meet.

This is an extremely powerful and emotional book. It clearly identifies white privilege and the prejudice of skin colour. It speaks to how our personal experiences, and the choices we make based on these experiences, contribute to the way we identify ourselves. I appreciated the discussion of sexual identity, as well as a woman’s role in society, especially given the historical context. I also applaud the strength of these women, given their unique circumstances.

This is a well-written piece of historical fiction written with compassion that engrosses the reader. It is thought-provoking and dynamic. I listened to the audiobook version of the book and applaud Shayna Small as the narrator for her performance. She brings the southern and ethnic accent so deserving this book.

I would recommend this book to those that love historical fiction or literary fiction.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5.


  1. This book sounds so good! Now I have to add another one to my tbr list!