Stella also gives Early her wedding ring to sell off for money to help with Adele's care. Sam is a professional man, a lawyer. Briefly, The Vanishing Half is a story about racial issues in the deep South from the 1950s through the 1990s. One night at work, she sees a woman (Stella) and the shock makes her drop a bottle of wine. Why do you think Stella feels she has to leave Desiree in New Orleans without saying goodbye? I was surprised how quickly I found myself drawn into this story. But I think this book is worth reading before then! The Vanishing Half is a quintessential book club book. I thought it was both hopeful (the daughters staying in touch, Jude and Reese being happy, Stella and Kennedy able to finally address the truth) and realistic (Agnes passing away and being buried in a still-segregated cemetery, Stella and Desiree get some form of reconciliation, but ultimately Stella stands by the decision she made so many years ago and can’t fathom changing her life now). Jude realizes their familial connection, motivating Kennedy to uncover Stella's concealed past. The Vanishing is at its best when anything could happen; as soon as things actually begin to it rapidly loses the audience’s interest. Reese wants to get surgery for his chest, so Jude gets a higher-paying catering job to help save money. If this summary was useful to you, please consider supporting this site by leaving a tip ($1, $2, or $4) or joining the Patreon! There is a Black family (Reginald and Loretta Walker, with their daughter Cindy) moving into their neighborhood, to everyone's displeasure. Stella reflects upon how easy it has been to carry off the deception. It was a matter of choice, and Desiree could have done the same thing if she had wished. In Part I (1968), Stella and Desiree Vignes are twins from Mallard, Louisiana, a town full of light-skinned Black people, who run away from home at 16. Have you read The Vanishing Half or would you consider reading it? The twins have left Mallard not merely because of this traumatic incident, but because at the end of tenth grade their mother has pulled them out of school and put them to work housecleaning for white people. Adele passes away, and Jude and Reese go home to attend the funeral. However, one day she left, leaving only a note. This is an earthy thriller with a palpable atmosphere, but it never quite manages to have its characters feel as natural as its landscapes. Stella applies for a job at the New Orleans department store Maison Blanche (the “White House”), becomes the secretary to a man named Blake Sanders, and eventually marries him and moves to Los Angeles with him when his work transfers him there. Stella is now working as an adjunct professor. And Reese is transgendered, while Barry dresses in drag just a few nights a month. I listened to part of the audiobook which Shayna Small narrates, and thought it was just okay. As I was reading it, the resounding question through all of these disparate yet similar obstacles was, why should any of this be necessary? In this book, you write from a number of perspectives, spanning different decades and ages. What did you think about the ending? They go to work for the wealthy Duponts, and Mr. Dupont sexually abuses Stella. In some contexts it means everything to be fairer-skinned, but in American society at large it proves to mean far less. A shame, really. ©2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Jude is still in touch with Kennedy and lets her know, though their mothers do not know they speak. Book: The Vanishing Half Author: Brit Bennett Edition: Hardcover 2020. What do you think it says about the town and its founders that they wanted to live in a town with entirely light-skinned black people? That might sound pejorative, but please trust me, I don’t mean it to. Why do you think Stella becomes depressed after Loretta leaves? Desiree marries a dark-skinned Black man and has a child, while Stella lives her life passing as white. And I agree, it felt to be less about issues of racism but about secrets. I knew based on the reviews that it would likely be a book with good insights on race, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the story even apart from that. In L.A., she and Blake live in upscale Brentwood, a... (The entire section contains 1256 words.). The source material for HBO's new limited series is Bennett's groundbreaking 2020 novel. A. I love novels that tell stories of communities. This novel is getting a LOT of buzz, so that’s a good start. In Part II (1978), Jude is now in college at UCLA. Stella has not seen her daughter since the incident with the photograph. I loved how Bennett made the characters not ” perfect” but full of the real issues that make up the racial questions we all have to grapple with every day, especially if you are a woman of color. There is no special trick or skill involved in the process. Already a member? It also works as a general work of fiction for those who like books about personal journeys, coming of age stories and narratives about self-discovery. So many women of color will have their own personal reflections of how life gets played out pending on the pigmentation of your skin. For the next week, I'm hoping we'll be able to respond to these questions and build off of each other's responses. There are some books that I keep reading after it’s no fun because I know it’s good for the mind, but this is not one of those books. Stella befriends Loretta, but tries to hide it from others. Loved the book and yes it did raise so many issues. Sam is African-American, but Desiree notes that his skin is very dark, unlike that of Desiree and her sister. Why did Brit Bennett title her novel The Vanishing Half? At the end of the book, when Stella finally goes home, why do you think Stella tries to leave without saying goodbye? The Vanishing Half is a powerful, timely and very human story about identity and race. Why do you think she ended up with him? She attends a friend's show where she meets Kennedy, recognizing her as the violet-eyed girl who was with the woman she that looked like her mother. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. A great review, Jennifer! The story became more like a baton being passed from character to character. The main group of people I’d be less likely to recommend this book to is those who are well versed on issues about race and who are specifically looking for a book to further their understanding and challenge their views. And why do you think Stella still wants to hide her past from her husband after going through all this? Discussion: The Vanishing Half So, it's the end of the month and hopefully everyone's had time to read the book. In Part IV (1982), Jude is now working while applying to medical school. There’s a brutal scene half-way through The Vanishing, director Kristoffer Nyholm’s “what if?” take on the Flannan Isle mystery. No one ever questions her “whiteness.” All one has to do be “white,” she realizes, is to act as if you’re white. Kennedy moves to Europe. The novel progressively reveals more and more intimacies, including the … Fiction provides the opportunity for us to empathize with individuals that we otherwise might never meet or even understand. The characters are faced with limitations and hard decisions as they are forced to choose their identities. The ending of The Shining explained By Matthew Jackson / Jan. 29, 2019 3:35 pm EST / Updated: May 14, 2020 5:12 pm EST For nearly 40 years now, … In 1954, when they are sixteen, they run away from home. Meanwhile, Stella got a job as secretary while passing as white. In 1968, shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the urban turmoil unleashed in its aftermath, Desiree takes Jude and leaves Sam, returning to Mallard without leaving him any word as to where she has gone. Mostly I’m curious what others from different backgrounds would think, since depending on people’s experiences you may view these characters and the decisions that they make differently. Desiree also tells Early about Stella, and Early offers to find her. Bennett’s writing is straightforward, but descriptive in the right places. Desiree goes north, to Washington, D.C., where she obtains a job with the FBI as a fingerprint reader. In Part VI (1986), Stella goes home in order to ask Desiree to tell Jude to leave Kennedy alone. In time, this film from director Kristoffer Nyholm ponders aloud whether the three men were consumed by forces more immediate, and if done right, more thrilling than eight-eyed sea monsters or alien kidnappers. The Vanishing Half author Brit Bennett sat down with Trevor Noah to discuss colorism, racial passing, and her thought process when writing the book. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was on a lot of lists for highly anticipated books for 2020, but now it’s been picked up for an HBO limited series in a 7-figure deal. The pretext was Leon’s allegedly “insulting” a white woman, but in reality the murder was prompted simply by the white group’s objection to the lower prices Leon set for the merchandise in his store—in other words, economic competition was at the root. One would think that Desiree has done well for herself by marrying him. One day, Loretta cuts off their friendship after Kennedy calls Cindy the n-word. The ending of the 1993 Americanization will also be spoiled, but that’s of far less consequence to mankind.] Desiree's daughter, Jude, moves to Los Angeles, where she meets Stella's daughter, Kennedy. What do you think she was hoping to achieve or get out of it, and do you think it was worth it? When Kennedy asks about the ring, Stella is happy she's back and tired of lying and finally tells her the full truth. Hi Julie, I love thoughtful and interesting comments like yours, so first thank you for your thoughts! Mostly, I just think this is just a solidly compelling drama that wraps in a lot of issues about identity, family and race in a way that feels thoughtful and not too heavy handed. Desiree marries a dark-skinned Black man and has a child, while Stella lives her life passing as white. As teenagers, what do you think drove Desiree and Stella’s desires to leave the town? “The Vanishing Half” answers all these questions in this exquisite story of love, survival and triumph. The Vanishing was released on 27 October 1988, and received positive reviews. In the course of the story, the Vanishing Half ties in a number of characters with contrasting experiences. Why do you think the neighborhood loves the character that Reginald Walker plays on his television show, but still treats him so poorly? The Vanishing Half centers on the story of twins Desiree and Stella Vignes, who are born in the tiny Louisiana village of Mallard in the 1930s. Jude and Kennedy get to know each other, but when Kennedy drunkenly insults Jude, Jude angrily tells her the truth about Stella and Mallard. Made me think of my own life and how I fluctuate with using a different voice on the phone to sound more like a ” white woman” when I want to make sure I get what I want from the call! Anyways, for my final review of the year I have chosen to do Indigo’s top book of the year, Goodreads’ top historical fiction book of the year, and one of Obama’s favourite books of the year—The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Now, 14 years later in 1968, Desiree has returned home with her daughter to escape Sam's abuse. 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