I have been a book nerd for much of my life (I discuss this in earlier posts here and here). However, after my coma and severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) I didn’t quite know how much I would read again. Thankfully I have discovered that I have fallen madly, deeply, permanently back in love with reading.
Perhaps I love reading again because I can’t hear normally (and listening to music and podcasts used to be a favorite pastime). Perhaps I love reading again because healing my brain is my primary focus and reading feels like a good thing to do for my brain (rather than spending time on computers or mobile devices). Perhaps I love reading again because it was my first true love. Whatever the reason, I’m BACK bookworms! 📕 🐛 And I am excited to share with you today a book review of a book that has me excited: “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett. I will also squeeze a little pop culture into this post since my second post of the month is usually pop culture related.
I first started reading “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett as a library book and ended up purchasing it on my Kindle because I didn’t read it fast enough and it went I went back on the waitlist at the library. I was trying to read too many books at once and that’s why I didn’t finish it in time. Once I started reading it in earnest I was hooked. The premise is that a set of twin sisters leaves their small southern town when they are 16. They vanish and leave behind their mother. Years later one of the twins returns to the home town having been abandoned by her twin sister years earlier. The title comes from the fact that the twin sister who abandoned her sister did so in order to live a life where she could “pass” as a white woman. The story is an interesting take on race and it will definitely have you thinking.
I really fell for this book because the characters are so strongly written. Bennett had a very good story concept but what really makes the book notable are the characters. Bennett interweaves the story hopping from decade to decade by using different characters as the focus for the three parts. The book starts off being told by one of the twins and ends being told by the other twin and the middle section is told by one of the twins’ daughters. The middle section is my favorite. There are characters I haven’t seen portrayed before in a mainstream novel (mainly a transgender man). And each addition to the plot and as a character trait feels organic and natural.
After I finished “The Vanishing Half” I immediately read Bennett’s first novel from a few years ago “The Mothers.” I can see that she has grown as a writer in the short time between the two books (“The Mothers” was published in 2016 and “The Vanishing Half” was published in 2020). You can see techniques that she uses in both novels with varying degrees of success (“The Mothers” also has different characters narrate chapters but this tactic is more successful in “The Vanishing Half”). If she just continues getting more polished as a writer I can’t wait to keep reading her stuff because two books into her career and she’s very good and fun to read.
Note: I plan to attend a virtual book talk that Bennett has promoted on her website. It’s on August 17 at 9:00pm Eastern Time/ 8:00 pm (Central Time). Find it listed on her website here.
A Pop Culture Kernel: “Ted Lasso”
I wanted to mention that I have started watching “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+ and I am using it as my motivation to work out on the treadmill or exercise bike (I am only letting myself watch it when I exercise). I so far have only watched a few episodes because we came up to the lake soon after I started watching it (no treadmill, etc. at the lake since all exercise is usually outside and water-based)! However, choosing a show to watch that I only allow myself to watch while exercising will be a good tactic for me. “Ted Lasso” just rolled out its second season and it stars Jason Sudeikis (SNL) as an American football coach hired to coach a British football/soccer team. The owner of the British team gets the club in her divorce and wants to hire Ted so that the team will do poorly in order to stick it to her ex-husband (who loved the club more than her and almost more than philandering). The hitch is that coach Ted Lasso has no idea his new boss hired him to fail and he just so happens to be the most kind-hearted, charming, guy that you can’t help but root for. I love characters like Ted. Characters with heart that are funny because they are genuine. Ted Lasso kind of reminds me of another SNL actor’s sitcom character, Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope from “Parks and Rec.” Once I started watching “Parks” during the second season (they found their groove in the second season and struggled a bit in the first season) I realized I find things funny when told by a genuine voice. I wasn’t sure if Ted Lasso was going to fit that mold but it certainly does and I look forward to watching more.