The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

*Review may contain spoilers.

Rating: 9.5/10 (5/5 on Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction


This is a story about passing in America. Although, I have read several books on the subject, fiction and non-fiction; this one was unique because it centers on twins: Stella and Desiree. One twin decides to pass as white and the other does not. Set primarily in a small town in Louisiana and southern California, this story is told by weaving the narratives of the twins’s daughters. This is a deeply moving and honest tale of what many Americans did to assimilate in the United States and the families torn apart by the desire to survive by passing. This book does not make a judgement on which decision is better (to pass or not), but instead reflects on the reasons why a person would chose either option and the aftermath of that decision.


  • Although this wasn’t the central theme, there were still discussions of colorism, which I do not think you can have a discussion on passing without colorism. The fictional city of Mallard, in particular, highlights the insidious nature of colorism within communities.
  • The ending wasn’t grandiose and didn’t give the sense of a fairy tale ending. Instead, it felt very realistic and I was very satisfied.
  • The way Brit Bennett weaved timelines and stories was so beautiful. I particularly love the character, Jude, Desiree’s daughter, and her relationship with Reese.


  • The book felt long, yet I felt like there was still more to say. Almost like it could have been a series. I felt that the daughters of Stella and Desiree had so much to offer and show their growth even further rather than the small summaries we got.

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