Second Tuesday Book Club will meet in-person from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, September 14, in the program room at Schimelpfenig Library. This will be our first in-person meeting since last year, and we will also choose our books for January – November 2022. Please email Cathe Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments, or if you would like to see a list of our proposed titles for next year. See you at Schimelpfenig Library soon!
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
“She’d imagined, more than once, telling her daughter the truth…How she’d pretended to be someone else, and after a while, pretending became reality…there was no single truth anymore. She’d lived a life split between two women–each real, each a lie.”
At age sixteen, identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes flee Mallard, the small Louisiana town where they were born, for New Orleans, never imagining how completely their lives will diverge: “after a year, the twins scattered, their lives splitting as evenly as their shared egg. Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.” Caught in a difficult marriage, Desiree ultimately returns home to Mallard with her daughter, while Stella disappears into a very private life in Los Angeles, living as a white wife and mother. Spanning three decades, this complex novel explores twinship, racial identity, and the ways in which secrecy can do lasting harm.
Writing for NPR, Heller McAlpin says, “Bennett is interested in the unanticipated consequences of life-changing decisions, the insidious tolls of racial bigotry and passing, the frustration of inscrutable mothers, the differences between acting and lying. Her characters are forever calculating what’s lost and what’s gained at each turn, what vanishes and what remains.”
Reviewer Lisa Page comments in the Washington Post that this novel is “a fierce examination of contemporary passing and the price so many pay for a new identity. Reinvention and erasure are two sides of the same coin. What price do we pay to be ourselves? And what happens to the other side of the equation, the side we leave behind? The Vanishing Half answers all these questions in this exquisite story of love, survival and triumph.”
Brit Bennett was born in Southern California, and is a graduate of Stanford University. She holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. Her first novel, The Mothers, was also a bestseller. Visit her website, britbennett.com, for more information about her work.
The Vanishing Half has been shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize in the UK, which will be announced in September, and was nominated for the National Book Award and for ALA’s Carnegie Medal. HBO has acquired the rights to develop the novel into a limited television series, with Ms. Bennett as executive producer.