Reviews tagging Deadnaming

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

12 reviews

vasha's review against another edition

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mysterious relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

This book started out not bad; the first few chapters are a depiction of the 1950s/1960s in Mallard, a very small Louisiana town inhabited by Black people who are obsessed with light skin; they introduce Desiree and Stella, twin sisters whose identities are tangled up in each other. The writing style is pleasant and unobtrusive and the story keeps moving forward. Desiree  is the protagonist of the first section, and she makes for a pretty passive one. I wish we'd seen more of her interactions with her daughter Jude (she shocked Mallard by bringing home a very dark child); that would've been about the most interesting thing about her. Her boyfriend, a traveling bounty hunter, is possibly my favorite character in the book, though, and there are some nice bits about their cautious relationship and Jude's ambiguity about accepting him. Stella, who decides to become white and hide her origins, comes to the fore later in the book; she's very unpleasant, but at least compelling to read about!

As the book went on, I liked it less and less. It's not much of a work of historical fiction: the author only evokes the most obvious, familiar cultural touchstones in the journey from the 1950s to the 1980s. And some things struck me as anachronistic. For example, some young people in the 1980s are shown unselfconsciously using the word "Negro." They were born about the same time as me; the author's twenty years younger, so let me correct her: that word was already antediluvian in the 80s. The cast of supporting characters, too, is stock, as are details of the life of a bored housewife or of a college student (frankly, the latter is completely unbelievable). 

Now, the one thing that bugged the holy hell out of me: the depiction of Jude's boyfriend Reese, who's a trans man. There is practically not one page he appears on, where him being trans, and things about his transition, aren't mentioned, and everything he's depicted doing is in relation to that. I eventually started a "drinking game": oh, Jude's going to apartment-hunt with Reese, or talk to him about her mother, or whatever; will the author bring up Reese's surgeries, scars, etc.? Yup.... This is objectivization, maybe fetishization, whatever, not good. 

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morganperks's review against another edition

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dark emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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sjduncan's review against another edition

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emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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kyrstin_p1989's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny hopeful mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Such a fascinating premise for a setting and for a storyline of a book. I knew that colorism existed, even among Black folx, but never thought about how far a group of people could take it. The main characters are all so different and yet so glaringly similar, even if they refuse to see it. The secrets we carry as daughters, sisters, mothers are complex and  many.  

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pamelakluna's review against another edition

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challenging emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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veronicats's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0


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galexy_brain's review against another edition

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emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0


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dhsteel's review against another edition

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challenging dark hopeful mysterious reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


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janadeschildre's review against another edition

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challenging sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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sj_54's review against another edition

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challenging emotional reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

It's immediately obvious why this is such a popular title, it is an incredibly timely book and beautifully written.

Highly recommend the audiobook, spot-on narrator.

While the jumps across timelines and the flashbacks may be confusing to some readers, (it requires some added effort and focus), it felt neither over the top nor unnecessary. It added to the mysteries of the story and allowed unique insights into each storyline.

I found there was never a dull moment, but can understand why some have described being 'bored' - it is not fast-paced and there is not a lot of 'action'. If you're in the mood for character-centered stories this is a great choice.

I particularly appreciated the approach this book took to including a trans character without immediately putting romantic feelings into question. It gets demoralizing to always see the inclusion of trans characters in a way that their existence is problematic to the main character, or that it is a reason in and of itself to affect the relationship. 

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