Book Review: The Vanishing Half

06.02.2020 | Riverhead Books
Rating: 5/5 stars


Stella and Desiree Vignes are identical twins who grew up in a small town known as Mallard, a Black community that prides themselves on having a lighter skinned population. These two women will always look the same, but the paths that their lives took are vastly different. Ten years later one sister lives with her Black daughter in the same small town she grew up in. The other sister secretly passes as white, living with her white husband who knows nothing of her past or true identity. A story spanning decades unravels the lives of Stella and Desiree as they navigate the decisions they have made and the paths their separate lives have taken them.

THE VANISHING HALF is easily one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2020! Brit Bennett has created a powerful and moving narrative about the lives of two sisters. Through the eyes of Stella, Desiree, and their two daughters, Kennedy and Jude, the reader is swept into a portrait of a family and their inner workings.


It is always hard to pick a favorite character when discussing a book like this one where Brit Bennett has created such an amazing cast of characters. While I loved learning every moment of Stella and Desiree’s lives, it was Jude who stole the show for me. Jude became the central figure of this book, allowing me to appreciate not only her choices in life, but those of her mother, her aunt, and her cousin. Bennett writes each of our main characters, and even our secondary characters, in a robust and full-fleshed out way to where the reader can genuinely feel the emotions coursing through these individuals. 

Bennett has crafted a story that draws the reader back and forth through time. There are several sections within this book, each broken down to represent a series of years. The ability to see the United States change and evolve over these years and how that impacts our character’s lives was fascinating. The settings and locations that we find our characters in drive reactions and opportunities to and for our characters. I was fascinated by how vastly different the lives of Stella and Desiree became over the years in the different locations they found themselves living.


Perhaps what sets THE VANISHING HALF apart from other works of literary fiction for me is the powerful message of family, love, and friendship that seeps through the pages of this story. There is so much love within these pages, but there is also heartache that drives this emotion. Just like no person’s life is simple, neither are the character’s lives in this book. Each one is delicately crafted in a way to resound with and impact any reader who chooses to pick up this book. Whether you have lived an experience similar to the main characters or not, that does not matter. Bennett’s writing gives you everything you need to feel a plethora of emotions when reading THE VANISHING HALF. 

I cannot recommend this book enough! Go put it on your TBR now!

Audiobook thoughts: I chose to listen to this book on audio and the narrator was absolutely fantastic! Shayna Small did a fantastic job of bringing to life the characters and plot of this book!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Vanishing Half

  1. Fantastic review! I haven’t read anything by Bennett before but I do have this one sitting on my TBR. I read the first few pages the other day and was almost immediately pulled in. Really looking forward to finishing it now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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