Brit Bennett is known for her ability to tell heart-wrenching stories that have themes of race, discovery, and family. Her New York Times Bestseller, The Vanishing Half, touches on numerous emotional aspects of life and family.
Bennett is also known for The Mothers, a novel that is also a New York Times Bestseller; that touches on many of the same themes in a similarly captivating fashion.
Today we’re going to look at 20 novels that share similar themes, many of which tackle the experiences of multi-ethnic individuals, the experience of women, and cultures outside the United States. You will most likely find a novel you were unfamiliar with that will grab your interest.
With that, let’s jump right to it!
The Mothers: A Novel
It makes sense to begin the list with another Brit Bennett novel. The Mothers features a number of the same themes as The Vanishing Half. This New York Times Bestseller addresses several difficult life questions.
Set in a melanated community in Southern California, The Mothers goes over life choices, the consequences of your actions, and learning to love yourself despite the mistakes you’ve made.
If you haven’t yet read the amazing work within The Mothers, you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
Author Nella Larsen was the first African-American woman to be awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Her work in Passing is remarkable and worth a glance for those who want to take a look at how life experiences can change based on how societies view someone.
Protagonist Irene Redfield is living in Harlem’s vibrant society in 1920, she thought her life was amazing until she ran into a childhood friend who is ‘passing’ as a low melanated aka a white person. The novel is a thought-provoking read and worth investigating.
If you’re curious about the encounter and how Irene Redfield reacts, you can purchase Passing on Amazon here.
When No One Is Watching: A Thriller
Alyssa Cole’s imagination jumps off the pages in When No One Is Watching: A Thriller. Her creativity blends perfectly well with real-life issues of gentrification.
Sydney Green is a lifelong Brooklyn native; she is concerned with the changes happening in her community, seemingly being taken over by realtors looking to make a quick buck. Her neighbors are disappearing, and she gets help from a new neighbor.
If you are interested in learning what conspiracy could be afoot and what awaits Sydney and Theo, you can purchase When No One Is Watching: A Thriller on Amazon here.
We Are All The Same In The Dark
Julia Heaberlin tells a very interesting story with We Are All The Same In The Dark, which investigates a town’s identity, women’s strength, and finding justice for those thought to be lost. While not identical to The Vanishing Half, there are numerous similar themes.
Odette Tucker must deal with an angering town, truth, and justice while being the guide for a mysterious girl. We Are All The Same In The Dark is a thriller with a slew of cultural messages which will leave a reader in thought.
Are you intrigued? You can purchase We Are All The Same In The Dark on Amazon here.
The Secrets You Keep: A Novel
The Secrets You Keep: A Novel shares a focus on family with The Vanishing Half; however, it adds a mysterious and thrilling element that fans of the latter may find compelling. Katie White tells a psychological tale that sees a woman’s life begin to unravel.
Bryn Harper is the protagonist, and she begins to expect her husband isn’t who he seems due to a series of nightmares. Several women are brutally murdered, giving Bryn a horrible feeling.
If you want to see what twists and turns await Bryn, you can purchase The Secrets You Keep: A Novel on Amazon here.
The Whole Story Of Half A Girl
Veera Hiranandani tells a beautiful and uplifting story within The Whole Story of Half a Girl, a novel that investigates family and race realistically and beautifully. Fans of The Vanishing Half will love The Whole Story of Half a Girl.
Sonia Nadhamuni is a half-Indian and half-Jewish American girl who undergoes a life change after her father loses her job — forcing her out of private school and into public school. Once in public school, she is faced with questions she isn’t prepared for.
If you are interested in reading this uplifting story which shows that we are all human, you can purchase The Whole Story of Half a Girl on Amazon here.
Honey and Spice: A Novel
Bolu Bablola brought out her creativity to tell the story of Honey and Spice. This novel tackles ego, relationships, romance, and tension in an extremely intelligent manner.
Kiki Banjo is a member of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University, where she is the host of the popular student radio show known as Brown Sugar. Kiki’s goal is to keep the women of her club out of relationships with men who would not treat them how they deserve, but she finds herself in a bit of a situation.
Are you hooked and want to read what Kiki is up to? You can purchase Honey and Spice on Amazon here.
The Polished Hoe: A Novel
Austin Clark takes a microscope at how slavery shaped the culture of the island of Bimshire, also known as Barbados. The Polished Hoe: A Novel is a great read for fans of The Vanishing Half.
Protagonist Mary-Mathilda calls the police to confess a crime, which sets off a chain reaction that brings up the African history of the island with the pain of slavery’s effects on society.
If you’re interested in reading a post-World War II look at the West Indies, you can purchase The Polished Hoe: A Novel on Amazon here.
In keeping the microscope on the life experiences of women, author Jesse Q Sutanto brings us The Obsession, a story of how a girl living her life can be dangerous if the wrong person focuses on her. The Obsession is a challenging and thrilling novel.
Deliah is living her life without knowledge of Logan; however, Logan is stalking Deliah. The twists unraveled in The Obsession put a spotlight on abuse, misogyny, racism, and violence.
If you’re interested in reading this fantastic and thought-provoking novel, The Obsession is available on Amazon here.
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight
Authors Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal came together to form an amazing tag team proven by the development of I’m Not Dying With You Tonight. The novel puts a spotlight on violence and the need to work together to overcome the largest obstacles.
The novel follows Lena and Campbell, two girls in high school with two different outlooks on life. When violence and hate take over their town the two girls are thrown together in a way neither could have ever imagined.
Every fan of The Vanishing Half should enjoy I’m Not Dying With You Tonight. You can purchase it on Amazon here.
In The Time Of The Butterflies
Author Julia Alvarez tells a story of loss, family, and a woman having to navigate through living in a dictatorship. The voices of four sisters are masterfully told in this political story told in the Dominican Republic.
In the Time of the Butterflies allows four women to tell their stories over decades, sharing the horrors of living under a dictatorship. However, their normal lives and humanity are respected endearingly.
In the Time of the Butterflies is a wonderful story that is available on Amazon here.
Yellow Wife: A Novel
Sadeqa Johnson tells a wonderfully terrifying story in the brilliant Yellow Wife: A Novel. The story takes a look at the horrors of slavery and the loss of innocence.
Yellow Wife: A Novel tells the story of Pheby Delores Brown, who grew up on a plantation as a slave. However, she was shielded from the reality of slavery due to her mother’s position. Her promised freedom once she turns eighteen isn’t the life she thought it would be.
If you want to read what happens to Pheby and how she deals with her new life, you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
The Secrets We Keep
At face value, The Secrets We Keep by author Kate Hewitt doesn’t seem to be similar to The Vanishing Half; however, it shares several similarities. The Secrets We Keep looks at protecting your family, secrets, and focuses on the stories of women.
Tessa goes to a house by a lake with her children hoping for a break from life; however, Tessa meets another family and their secrets put her family at risk. What happens throughout Tessa’s story is heart wrenching and an emotional read.
If you want to see what mystery awaits in The Secrets We Keep, you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
The Secrets We Keep
No, this is not a misprint; we’re following with The Secrets We Keep with…The Secrets We Keep. This title is brought to us by Trisha Leaver; this novel focuses on the stories of women in one of the more heartbreaking fashions.
Two twins with different high school experiences are in a horrible accident that takes one of their lives, but which one? What happens throughout the story is wrenching and leaves the surviving sister with a difficult choice.
If you’re interested in finding out what happens in The Secrets We Keep, you can purchase it on Amazon here.
A Long Petal Of The Sea: A Novel
A Long Petal of the Sea is a charming story by Isabel Allende that tackles the heartbreak of Spain being overtaken by Fascists, causing hundreds of thousands to flee the nation. The novel takes a look at exile, hope, belonging, and embracing a new culture.
The novel focuses on Roser and Victor, their love, struggles, and their journey in an attempt to escape fascism. Their story will leave you rooting for them and feeling as if you are on the ride with them.
If you are interested in A Long Petal of the Sea, you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
Mrs. Everything: A Novel
Continuing the theme of The Vanishing Half focusing on women, Mrs. Everything by author Jennifer Weiner tackles the social expectations of women in the 1950s and the different routes some decided to take.
Sisters Jo and Bethie Kaufman took different paths with Vietnam, Woodstock, free love, and women’s liberation unraveling during their youth. The story unravels the sisters coming together to find the world they imagined.
If you’re interested in this depiction of sisterly discovery and women’s role in society, you can purchase Mrs. Everything on Amazon here.
The House of Deep Water
Jeni McFarland brought us The House of Deep Water, a story that focuses on mothers and their daughters. The story investigates themes of motherhood, loss, love, and new beginnings of those who wanted to leave their home but ended up returning.
The story follows Linda, Paula, and Beth in River Bend, Michigan, who have to navigate through their secrets, love affairs, and a scandal that forces a character to confront her past.
If you’re interested in reading about the drama in The House of Deep Water, you can purchase it on Amazon here.
Next Year In Havana
Chanel Cleeton authored the magnificent story that unravels within Next Year in Havana. As with the other novels on this list, Next Year in Havana follows a woman on a path of self-discovery in an attractive manner.
The story follows Marisol Ferrera, who follows the last wishes of her grandmother Elisa who wanted her ashes scattered in Cuba. The story looks at Marisol discovering the beauty and peril within Cuba.
If you’re interested in following Marisol’s journey in Cuba, you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
We Are Not Like Them: A Novel
We Are Not Like Them is a tag team effort from creative writers Jo Piazza and Christine Pride. The novel is a beautiful look at companionship and how society’s troubles can strain the relationships of even the closest friends.
The protagonists are Jen and Riley, who have been best friends since kindergarten. The two women are from different racial backgrounds; Jen’s police officer husband is involved in a shooting of an unarmed teenager that brings trouble to their city.
If you would like to read what happens to Jen and Riley’s friendship, the novel is available on Amazon here.
Caucasia: A Novel
Danzy Senna tells an amazing story of a multi-ethnic family, loss, and discovery within the pages of Caucasia. When a family falls apart, sisters who were each other’s best friends search to come together again.
Sisters Birdie and Cole may look different, but they are sisters of the closest kind. Their parents’ divorce tears them from one another, but will it ruin how close they are?
Caucasia is a coming-of-age story that is moving and worth a read; you can purchase the novel on Amazon here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Novels Listed Would You recommend?
We Are Not Like Them is an absolute must-read as it relates heavily to current events, and isn’t afraid to make readers uncomfortable. I’m Not Dying With You Tonight, The Whole Story Of Half A Girl, and Honey & Spice speak to me. I’m from a multi-ethnic background; stories which share that experience are rare and important.
Which Novel Listed Are Most Like The Vanishing Half?
The easy answer is The Mothers. I believe The House of Deep Water is also extremely similar.
Which Novels Listed Would Make The Best Film Adaptions?
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight would be a visual experience for a movie or series, The Obsession would make for a great series, Passing would make for an interesting movie, and When No One Is Watching would be great on film.
What Age Group Is The Vanishing Half For?
Freshman High school students should be able to understand The Vanishing Half’s themes without problems.
Is There Physical Abuse In The Vanishing Half?
Yes. Domestic abuse is highlighted in a raw and emotional fashion.
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3. James Baldwin
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5. Alice Walker
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7. Langston Hughes
8. Walter Mosley
9. Ta-Nehisi Coates
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