AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Format: Audio
Genre:  AA Fiction
Narrators: Shayna Small 

Publisher: Penguin Audio        
11 hours 34 min
Buy: Kindle | Audio


The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, Southern Black community and running away at age 16, 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?


This is a complex story about race and the stigma of white supremacy.  The Vignes twins grew up in a small town where all the black people were light skinned, being dark was frowned upon.  As they grew up the twins were inseparable, but as they got older they ran away and one day Stella was no longer there.  Escaping into a world where she could be anyone she wanted she decided it was easier to be white.  Her sister goes in the opposite direction and marries the darkest man she can find but always longs and wonders about her sister.  

As Stella lives her life as white she becomes trapped in a prison of her own making.  Always wondering if she will be found out.  When a black family moves into her all white neighborhood she is terrified that the family will know she isn't white but she also longs for the easy companionship of black women.  

Her sister runs away from her marriage after she is beaten by her husband, taking her dark skinned daughter back to Mallard where she grew up and back to her Mama.  Living there her daughter faces the discrimination of the light skinned people who live there.

This story is about fitting in, finding your place and the pain that passing brings to generations.  Its about racism, even within the black community where the shade of your skin is a mark of pride or shame.  Its about living a lie or living in your truth.  This is a wonderfully written book with so many things to delve into.  It makes a great book club read and once you read it you want to talk about it with others.  

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