How Does The Other Half Live

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was voted book of the year by Book of the Month subscribers and that was what made me finally want to read it. Reading the synopsis of this book did not help pique my interest. I had completely no clue what to expect from his book or even if I would like it. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was a unique and entertaining story. The Vignes twins, Desiree and Stella, live in a Black southern town named Mallard. Mallard is a town that’s prides themselves on being super light skinned, some people can even pass as white. One day the twins decide to up and leave, without telling anyone, and move to New Orleans. They find work and a floor to sleep on until eventually finding an apartment. Stella loses her job at the laundry mat and is forced to job hunt. She finds herself at a secretary job interview and is mistaken as a white girl, which changes the trajectory of the rest of her life. She gets the job and decides to keep up the ruse. After time her and her boss start dating and eventually, he proposes she move with him to Boston. Stella leaves Desiree with a note and never looks back. Desiree finds a life in D.C. and a husband that beats her and ends up back in Mallard with her daughter, Jude. Stella lives in Los Angeles with her husband Blake and their daughter Kennedy. Desiree never thought she would be living back in Mallard with no idea where Stella is or even who she is anymore. Jude looks nothing like her mom and works hard to leave Mallard and go to college. Kennedy drops out of college to pursue acting. This book jumped between the lives of Desiree, Jude, Stella, and Kennedy. All leading completely different lives and somehow still running into each other. This story is so intricately told that no synopsis will do it justice. There is so many little details that make this story up and how everything builds. Their lives are all complicated and it feels like you have read every part of those lives. I really enjoyed how this story was compiled with a nonlinear timeline, but it was still incredibly easy to follow. Every character had stories that made them enjoyable and relate-able in some way to everyone. This was a great book to read during Black History Month and there are lessons inside for everyone. Although it took me longer to get hooked than I would have liked, I did really like this book.

Top Quotes – “People you loved could leave and there was nothing you could do about it.”

“People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else.”

“You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.”

“She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.” 

“When you married someone, you promised to love every person he would be. He promised to love every person she had been. And here they were, still trying, even though the past and the future were both mysteries.” 

“That was the thrill of youth, the idea that you could be anyone. That was what had captured her in the charm shop, all those years ago. Then adulthood came, your choices solidifying, and you realize that everything you are had been set in motion years before. The rest was aftermath.” 

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