A review by katrin_l
The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

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


The premise of the book is interesting. Though the summary is a bit misleading. It does not feel like anybody is the main character of this book, or rather, nobody is the main character of this book. As a reader, you are plunged inside the plot, and told to swim. Unfortunately, you keep on threading water up until the last page. 

It is possible that after reading so many (for me) bad contemporary books, I've become biased against them. But it does appear like I've treaded into an ocean of mediocre literature. I can't say the book is entirely bad. There are flashes of feeling, interesting remarks or thoughts of characters. Metaphores and red strings that lead you through the entire story, which only realise in hindsight. However, it feels like the author is trying to build a diverse narrative, tick all the boxes so to say. But in doing so, everything ends up so overwhelmingly underdeveloped. Just as you start hoping that it will go somewhere, the author decides to introduce yet another character. It is rushed - feels like an underbaked cake: the ingredients are there, but the cook did not how to bake it properly...

SpoilerThe most interesting parts are probably from Jude's perspective, especially those in the beginning. The way she intentionally blanks her father's abuse of her mother, how she blames her mother for certain aspects of it - it introduces the rationale in a very believable way. She is angry she's in a place where everybody hates her, she misses her father, and her mother keeps lying to her. She keeps clinging to a phantasy, because it's better than real life.

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