Monday, April 26, 2021

tiny book reviews.2021.n8 -- the vanishing half by brit bennett


Of the New York Times list of five best works of fiction in 2020, this is the third I've reviewed. 

It's a popular book; it took some time for it to become available at my library.

I liked this book. It's sort of about being the thing you choose to be rather than the thing everyone around you would have you be, and about the hard consequences of those choices. But it is this on a profoundly deep level, centered around those elements of identity that are probably the most core--race, gender, sexuality, daughter, sister--and around which we experience the heaviest cultural inertia. It's about passing.

I liked the premise. I liked the characters. I liked how the story developed. 

I'm not sure I liked how the book ended. 

There seemed to be more in the story than what we got. Or there could have been more. I guess I felt, from the beginning, that I was going to be led through a John Irving-type saga of a narrative, only to have the back 3/4 of the story condensed into a few dozen pages. Like good food at a good restaurant that, in the end, doesn't really really fill you up. Characters that I wanted to know more about, that I wanted to see go on adventures to make their mark on the world (or have the world leave their mark on them), just sort of...didn't do that.

Tasty. Meaningful. Unsatisfying (which is to say, in my opinion, bordering on incomplete).

4 of 5 stars.

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