For this months book club we read The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett.
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 secretly 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?
So let’s talk about this.
I had heard great things about this book before it came up as a book club book. So, I must admit, I might have had high expectations for actually reading it myself. I’m happy to admit this book mostly lived up to those expectations.
It did have it’s drawbacks for me. Spoilers ahead (sort of) so be prepared for those.
The first 47% of this book is told from one sister’s perspective. I know because I was reading it on my kindle. And that’s before it jumps into her daughter’s perspective. But then it jumps into the other sister’s perspective and then into HER daughter’s perspective.
We don’t see a lot from the one sister’s POV. We do see what happened to her and what she went thru for her life. It takes up a lot of emotional space if not physical.
And when I say emotional space, I mean emotional space. The sisters went thru some stuff. They would probably benefit from some therapy, if therapy was something that they did back in the day.
They would also benefit from some better communication skills with each other.
I was also waiting for one thing to happen that never actually did. Which was annoying. But that was more me wanting there to be something more to the book.
I did find myself internally cringing at some points. Mostly at the horrific racism of the south in the 50’s. People were terrible. And that was part of the point I imagine.
Pacing was good. The flow never felt slow or forced.
Plot was fantastic. Really, A+ plot.
World Building was great. Britt Bennett paints a vivid picture of the past.
Character development was great. I did have some problems with one of the daughters. She never felt fully fleshed out, despite the book giving her a full life. It could also be that I just didn’t like her.
That may be it.
When all is said and done I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.