Written By: Brit Bennett

Narrated By: Shayna Small

Date: June 2020

Duration: 11 hours 34 minutes






“Bennett’s tone and style recalls James Baldwin and Jacqueline Woodson, but it’s especially reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s 1970 debut novel, The Bluest Eye.” —Kiley Reid, Wall Street Journal 

“A story of absolute, universal timelessness …For any era, it's an accomplished, affecting novel. For this moment, it's piercing, subtly wending its way toward questions about who we are and who we want to be….” – Entertainment Weekly

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

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?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.


  • Gina M.

    Boring! Same old tired story. Black, white, male, female, gay, rich, poor, beautiful, ugly, healthy, sick .... accept yourself, don’t lie, be kind! I fast forwarded through this after 3/4ths. Very tedious.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful.

  • Charlene C.

    This was a POWERFUL story! Leaves you with much to think about.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    A well constructed read. I particularly appreciated the use of overlapping time lines woven together to create the story. It worked well in driving the separate but related narratives.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • Hailey Moen

    The Vanishing Half was a really awesome book Britt Bennett did a really nice job with the character development along with transitioning between the different eras along with the flash backs. I also really liked how it talked about major issues like abuse, racism, segregation, just to name a few. It really opened my eyes and me feel more educated. Shayna Small did an awesome job with the narrating. She kept it very interesting by doing accents with different characters to make them come to life. Would highly recommend this book!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • Judy D.

    This was a thought-provoking story that started out strong, and even though I read the whole book, it got less interesting, because it felt to me that some of the key points (and important points) were left hanging, instead of having a strong action and wrap up that satisfies the character's point being made... and the reader's interest and curiosity! Too bad, because overall it was well written and interesting.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • Adrienne R.

    Excellent read from beginning to end. Narrator did a wonderful job with the voices.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Jennifer A.

    The story was written well, but the coverage of the many social constructs was simple and without any mental challenge or intrigue. Good for a "beginning thinker", like perhaps an advanced 10th grade English class. The narrator did a reasonable job in portraying the characters.

  • Gribbit

    Insightful for me as I struggle to understand my bias and the bias of others. This book helped me understand from a different point of view and I have highly recommended it to others.

  • Darene F.

    This book stirred vague memories of my childhood in Arkansas in the 1960’s. I wasn’t totally aware of the racialism at the time - as I did not recognize racialism. Now looking back, I can remember seeing much of the prejudice and injustice presented in this story. The characters seem very real and true to their time. The south was often cruel and demeaning to anyone of color- both intentionally and at times unintentionally. So when Stella decided to “pass” as white, it was impossible for her to do so safely and successfully without abandoning her family. She saw a rare chance to have a better life and seized it. At that moment, she probably had not given full consideration to how costly this decision would be for the rest of her life for herself and many others. Mallard was populated by a society of people who claimed being black, yet required the members to appear light skinned or “white” to be accepted and they remained to themselves except to find work. For this reason, Mallard was a very difficult and uncomfortable place for Jude, the dark skinned child of Desiree, to grow up. Being “different” did prepare Jude to accept Reese, formerly Therese, unconditionally, as he was. The town Mallard was based on a few small towns in Louisiana with the same light skinned populations. This book kept my interest all the way to the end. I enjoyed the narrator’s ability to bring different voices to the different characters. This book is not only entertaining, but thought provoking. For example, how do we mask, confuse, hide, accept or deny our own true identities? Great book to read for a book club discussion or for your own interest.

  • Nadia T.

    I loved every moment of this great work. Phenomenal and touching.

  • Anonymous

    One of the best books i have ever read i will recommend to whoever want something new and good

  • K O.

    This story made me sad. I was very bothered by the fact that the color of skin impacted the lives of the main characters in every aspect of their lives. The color of skin changed their lives in almost every instance.

  • Anonymous

    Reading these reviews is interesting. I really appreciated the reader who I felt did an admirable job of voicing the characters in the story. They were a bit two dimensional, but I ended up getting to like them and will actually miss checking in with them. The difference between Jude and Kennedy was especially interesting.

  • Lauron P.

    Outstanding. One of the best reads of the year. My book club is reading it this month. There are so many layers to this discuss about this book that are extremely relevant today. I highly recommend this to anyone who has struggled with their identity or has felt marginalized.

  • Muna O.

    The story was hard to follow sometimes but still really enjoyed it. The narrator was so bad though, I almost couldn’t do it but the book itself kept me going

  • Anonymous

    This book was about identity and childhood trauma. How trauma plays out in relationships and shapes identity. I liked the time jumps and being able to have the narration give us insight from each woman. I found myself judging one character but then empathizing with her once I read her perspective. Very important for our times and our lack of cultural understanding too. I really enjoyed it and Getting to know the twins and their daughters was interesting. I connected with Jude the most. Who is my age. Also a nice look at US history from the South to LA.

  • Rachel P.

    It was ok. I can't say I loved it, I can't say I hated it. I read the whole thing but I didn't feel particularly emotionally moved, thrilled, or even very entertained. It felt predictable. I do think Jude was a great character.

  • Anonymous

    good story but slow. ended rather abruptly. TV

  • Bryan T.

    Riveting. Enticing. Magnetic. Calm amidst the storm.

  • Dionne G.

    The title of the book comes to life in this story. The characters walk away from, or vanish from struggles in their lives-so they think! The book was very well written and I love the way that it evolves. It's a perfect book for a book club discussion!

  • Bradley A.

    eh itsigh

  • Debra M.

    Excellent book

  • Anonymous

    Carefully done and thought-provoking. This book deftly tells an intergenerational story about making hard decisions, family, crafting your life. Each place and character are believable and brought to life further by the narrator. I agree with some others that it began a little slow, picked up quite a bit, and then ended in a way that was realistic but kind of left you wanting more of the characters lives. I see why this one has made such a splash, it's excellent.

  • Anonymous

    Started slow but picked up. Character development was exceptional, narration made it extra good. I was stuck in it until the end.

  • Deb B.

    I loved this book. There were so many levels of hiding, secrets, facades. I couldn't stop reading it.

  • Anonymous

    I do not see what all the hype was about. I did not enjoy this book at all. It was slow and one of my least favorite books that I have ever read. I would not recommend it.

  • Anonymous

    Good book!

  • Sandra M.

    Beautifully written.

  • Anonymous

    such a thought provoking book. It definitely left a mark on me. The ending kinda puts me off, I love the metaphor behind but it failed to tie the whole story for me. The narrator did a good job with switching accents! She made the story alive!

  • Rita F.

    I loved the book and the Narrator It was quite a story and one to think about I could not put it down

  • Anonymous

    Enjoyed book.

  • Bianca1976

    Great book and really loved the narrator as well.

  • Lakoya A.

    Awesome book!

  • Rhonda M.

    As they say, the grass is not always greener on the other side!

  • Anonymous

    thoughtful, beautiful, and heartbreaking. I would recommend to anyone! the notion of choosing a life of privilege in a world that only values the color of your skin is sadly too true. wonderfully written.

  • Anonymous

    It just sucked you in. It was sad funny. It delt with so many hard topics. I loved loved loved it.

  • Cheryl L.

    I was transported in time. love this book

  • LCaldwell

    Very good! It was a great listen.

  • Anonymous

    Shayna Small offers a vibrant and captivating reading of this book. The writing is fluid, the psychology of the main characters and their interactions is nuanced and described in great details.

  • Latoya L.

    Talk about self hatred, some may call it passing, but to take in a new identity and say your family is dead. When in fact you're a twin, Stella, the lightest one. Your niece finds you and outs you to your entitled spoiled child. Desiree the dark twin still lived in their old hometown, Mallard, LA....the niece (the dark girl) opened up Pandoras box which made Stella's made up life apart. Great Read #book21of2020 #bookworm #whatsnext

Vanishing Half: A Novel

by Brit Bennett

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