Next in the Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist miniseries is The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This book has already received heaps of praise, appearing on the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist and wining the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction in 2020.
I’m not sure how to articulate my thoughts coherently on how much I loved The Vanishing Half . It is a wonderful book, masterful in its story-telling, thought-provoking, and deeply emotional. I didn’t have many expectations going in but I know this is a book that I will long remember.
Within The Vanishing Half Brit Bennet has covered a wealth of topics: racism, family ties, love, loss, and so much more. At the core this novel tackles racism and colourism from the 1940s to the early 2000s. This book taught me a lot, specifically on the American experience as both a light and dark skinned individual, but equally enabled me to resonate with the characters and their choices in minute ways – no difficult feat! It felt like each small scene, moment, emotion was intrinsically linked to the next creating a beautiful mural of life.
This book shows life as it is: messy, lonely, filled with moments of regret, but also filled with excitement, love, and passion. Every character felt so distinct and full they came to life before my eyes. Brit Bennet has a gift for writing, the prose was clear and deeply resonant. I think part of the reason I enjoyed this novel so much was how subtly philosophical it was. The novel is a deep-dive on human character and decisions in our unfair world. Do not go into this book expecting a happy resolved ending. Throughout the book I kept waiting for that big moment of resolution, the return back to the feeling at the beginning, and that never happens. There is some resolution, but Brit Bennett is real. The ending is bittersweet, but realistic.
In short, I loved this book and it is one I will never forget. It has such depth I know I will think back on it in quiet future moments.
The Vanishing Half deserves all of its current praise and more and definitely deserves to be on the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, perhaps even to win. I can see this novel finding its place in history.
If you enjoy novels tackling complex family dynamics and the intricacies of racism from an American viewpoint I highly recommend you give this a go. Even if this isn’t your usual cup of tea I would recommend trying it!
I will definitely be adding Brit Bennett’s other published book The Mothers to my reading list.
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
I think this might be one of my most tabbed books, so of course I have to share some of my favourite quotes with you:
“People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else”.
“In the dark, you could never be too black. In the dark, everyone was the same colour”.
“He loved taking pictures of anything but himself. The camera never saw him the way he did”.
“A body could be labelled but a person couldn’t”
“She hadn’t realised how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you”
“Her death hit in waves. Not a flood, but water lapping steadily at her ankles.
You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.”
Tigger Warnings – Domestic abuse/violence, racism, sexual assault, and transphobia.
Since it is June and Pride month I thought it especially relevant to point out that this book includes LGBTQ+ individuals.
If you have read this book let me know you thoughts down below! The next book on my reading list is most likely Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller.