Would love to hear other opinions on this as well! What do you think she was hoping to achieve or get out of it, and do you think it was worth it? That might sound pejorative, but please trust me, I don’t mean it to. 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 by Brit Bennett is a 2020 novel about estranged twins Desiree and Stella Vignes and their daughters, Jude and Kennedy. Desiree always wanted to leave, but Stella isn't motivated to run away until they are pulled out of high school to work as cleaners. I always prefer when the author really ties everything up in a pretty bow (to my own fault). She meets and falls for Reese, a southern boy who is transgendered. A conversation with Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half Q. Kennedy moves to Europe. I really enjoyed this book, and I think it would be so fantastic as a television series, so I’m looking forward to when that happens. 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. Meanwhile, Stella got a job as secretary while passing as white. 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. Fiction provides the opportunity for us to empathize with individuals that we otherwise might never meet or even understand. 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! While outright racism like that is less blatant now in 2020, there are plenty of supposedly “woke” liberals nowadays who still wouldn’t consider marrying outside their race (most will make an exception for a fling or hookup) and whose social circles consist entirely of other white people, with maybe one token Black friend (often bi-racial and almost always someone of means) added on. Actually my grandmother had a sister who ended up “passing” and abandoned the family who never saw her ever again. Based on Tim Krabbé’s novel The Golden Egg, George Sluizer's The Vanishing was a minor sensation when it finally debuted in U.S. arthouses in late 1990/early 1991, a full two years after it was made. They are wealthy and have a blond-haired, violet-eyed daughter, Kennedy. Stella befriends Loretta, but tries to hide it from others. Our summaries and analyses are written by experts, and your questions are answered by real teachers. It's a story that explores the intricacies of identity, family and race in a provocative but compassionate way. Your email address will not be published. The Vanishing Half is a rich, extravagant fairy tale of a book. He's offered a job (from Sam) to find Desiree. It’s a really, really good book that just happens to be a perfect storm of all the things that book clubs generally like. Why do you think the neighborhood loves the character that Reginald Walker plays on his television show, but still treats him so poorly? The source material for HBO's new limited series is Bennett's groundbreaking 2020 novel. The ending of the 1993 Americanization will also be spoiled, but that’s of far less consequence to mankind.] In Part IV (1982), Jude is now working while applying to medical school. A shame, really. It’s a poignant family story that doesn’t shy away from the intersections of race, class, and gender—all while capturing the reader’s heart and mind in a … I was surprised how quickly I found myself drawn into this story. If this summary was useful to you, please consider supporting this site by leaving a tip ($1, $2, or $4) or joining the Patreon! In some contexts it means everything to be fairer-skinned, but in American society at large it proves to mean far less. Loved the book and yes it did raise so many issues. For the next week, I'm hoping we'll be able to respond to these questions and build off of each other's responses. Why do you think Stella becomes depressed after Loretta leaves? However, one day she left, leaving only a note. The Vanishing (Dutch: Spoorloos, literally: "Traceless" or "Without a Trace") is a 1988 thriller film directed by George Sluizer, adapted from the novella The Golden Egg (1984) by Tim Krabbé.It stars Gene Bervoets as a man who searches obsessively for his girlfriend following her disappearance at a rest area.. Curious to hear other opinions on this. He accepts because he recognizes Desiree from when they were teenagers. 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. Word Count: 1256. Stella reflects upon how easy it has been to carry off the deception. "The Vanishing" is a textbook exercise in the trashing of a nearly perfect film, conducted oddly enough under the auspices of the man who directed it. The novel progressively reveals more and more intimacies, including the … In 1954, when they are sixteen, they run away from home. Briefly, The Vanishing Half is a story about racial issues in the deep South from the 1950s through the 1990s. Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Vanishing Half study guide. They have a child, a girl they name Jude, who like her father is very dark. If you were in their situation, what path do you think you would have chosen? The Vanishing Half explores themes of race, family, and identity. I took the last sentence (about the river and begging to forget) to be about how we are all formed according to our paths, and most of us have some part of that we try to leave behind and pain associated it that we want to forget about. For example, Stella ends up living in a white neighborhood, filled with the type of people who might support Dr. King’s ideas, but who also don’t want Black people living in their neighborhood. Stella is now working as an adjunct professor. “The Vanishing Half” answers all these questions in this exquisite story of love, survival and triumph. Bennett’s writing is straightforward, but descriptive in the right places. We’ve discounted annual subscriptions by 50% for our End-of-Year sale—Join Now! One day, Loretta cuts off their friendship after Kennedy calls Cindy the n-word. The Vanishing Half is a powerful, timely and very human story about identity and race. Desiree goes north, to Washington, D.C., where she obtains a job with the FBI as a fingerprint reader. Reminds me of the film “Imitation of Life” which was a classic movie and very emotional, ending with Mahalia Jackson singing a real tearjerker at the black mother’s funeral. But the marriage is unhappy. The Vanishing features no ETs or even man-eating seabirds, but the tale that the writers Joe Bone and Celyn Jones have cooked up does feature frightening pirate … Desiree also tells Early about Stella, and Early offers to find her. Stella decides to pass as white, marrying a white businessman and moving to Los Angeles, where she, too, has a daughter. Do you think that’s a healthy fixation? In the course of the story, the Vanishing Half ties in a number of characters with contrasting experiences. A lot of the characters have things about themselves they feel they have to hide from others. 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. Stella has always been secretive, but now Kennedy knows her mother has been lying to her. What did you think about the ending? What do you think? And Reese is transgendered, while Barry dresses in drag just a few nights a month. But I think this book is worth reading before then! She was depressed after the Walkers left and ended up going back to school. Why do you think Stella feels she has to leave Desiree in New Orleans without saying goodbye? It was a matter of choice, and Desiree could have done the same thing if she had wished. While this book does a good job of telling a powerful and meaningful story, as far as issues surrounding race goes, I think most of the territory this book covers will be familiar to that type of reader. (The Detailed Plot Summary is also available, below). For my cocktail, I am making a White Russian. This novel is getting a LOT of buzz, so that’s a good start. Desiree and Early move to Houston. Desiree marries a dark-skinned man (Sam) and has a daughter, Jude. In Part VI (1986), Stella goes home in order to ask Desiree to tell Jude to leave Kennedy alone. When Kennedy asks about the ring, Stella is happy she's back and tired of lying and finally tells her the full truth. At home, Stella learns that their mother Adele now has Alzheimer's. Who did you sympathize or connect with more, Stella or Desiree? Jude is still in touch with Kennedy and lets her know, though their mothers do not know they speak. I actually liked the ending to the book. I listened to part of the audiobook which Shayna Small narrates, and thought it was just okay. Early Jones makes a living tracking people down and bounty hunting. 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. Log in here. This is the ending of V for Vendetta explained. You can take a listen to the clip on Amazon to see if it appeals to you, but it wasn’t to my taste personally. Leave your thoughts below! Stella has taken a different course—that of “passing,” or presenting herself as a white person. 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. However, Stella asks Kennedy not to tell her father (Stella's not planning on changing her life). Kennedy ends up confronting Stella with the photo, but Stella lies, to Kennedy's frustration. Desiree and Stella Vignes are raised in Mallard, Louisiana. Many were left puzzled by the film's cryptic message. The book tracks their lives across generations, as their lives branch away from each other and yet remain intertwined. In making those choices, the Vanishing Half also contemplates the things that people must hide from those that they love, the sacrifices they have to make and the things they have to do to keep those identities safe from others who wouldn’t accept it. Did you like the way things were resolved. It was also an unexpectedly effortless read, considering the somewhat heavy topics in the book. https://www.flickeringmyth.com/2019/01/movie-review-the-vanishing-2019 Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Each of these characters is a product of their past and also is trying to make peace with their past as well. See the archives. As I was reading it, the resounding question through all of these disparate yet similar obstacles was, why should any of this be necessary? As a dark-skinned girl who grew up with only light-skinned Black people, she has been bullied and excluded her whole life. Adele passes away, and Jude and Reese go home to attend the funeral. It’s a fight between lighthouse keepers James Ducat (Gerard Butler) and Thomas Marshall (Peter Mullan), and two violent Scandinavian men who’ve appeared looking for … I really, really wish I had a group to discuss this book with right now. 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. And I agree, it felt to be less about issues of racism but about secrets. So many women of color will have their own personal reflections of how life gets played out pending on the pigmentation of your skin. Sam becomes abusive both verbally and physically. The Vanishing Half follows the lives of two twin girls, both light-skinned Black girls, who run away from home at the age of sixteen. Passing to survive! The Vanishing Half is an intergenerational examination of identity, and what it’s like to grow up in a body you’ve been conditioned to feel ashamed of. eNotes.com will help you with any book or any question. T he Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a 2020 novel about estranged twins Desiree and Stella Vignes and their daughters, Jude and Kennedy. The L.A. Times Book Club’s August selection is “The Vanishing Half,” Brit Bennett’s new novel about family secrets and twin sisters whose lives take radically different paths. It would be such a great book club book because of the perspectives it works into the narrative. ©2020 eNotes.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. There is no special trick or skill involved in the process. She meets and marries a man named Sam Winston. I didn’t understand the last sentence and it’s significance. The characters are faced with limitations and hard decisions as they are forced to choose their identities. (I’d actually point them to Ta Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer, if you’re looking for a recent fiction release in that vein.). They hug and they catch up, but then Stella sneaks out at night to leave and return to her life. THE END OF TEMPERANCE DARE (2017, Lake Union) is set in a former tuberculosis sanatorium on Lake Superior, now a renowned retreat for artists and writers. In L.A., she and Blake live in upscale Brentwood, a... (The entire section contains 1256 words.). The Killer in The Vanishing (1988, orig. Upon seeing her bruises, he lies to Sam and says he can't find her. It seemed a little unfinished to me, but I tend to feel that way about any book that leaves any sort of loose ends. Last Updated on August 26, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. The story became more like a baton being passed from character to character. Very sad scenario, regardless of the story. In this book, you write from a number of perspectives, spanning different decades and ages. There’s not a lot of filler, which I generally prefer, and the plot moves forward at a pretty steady clip. I very much enjoyed this book the whole way through. In 1954, Desiree and Stella, then aged sixteen, run away from home, leaving behind their mother, Adele, who works in a diner. Kennedy is pursuing an acting career, and she confirms that it was Stella. The Vanishing was released on 27 October 1988, and received positive reviews. 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). Have you read The Vanishing Half or would you consider reading it? I more or less read it straight through, with some breaks to run errands, eat and walk my dog. I just finished reading the book a few minutes ago, and I’m curious to know if you liked the ending? The timbre of the woman’s voice didn’t really appeal to be, I found it to be a bit thin, but there was nothing objectively wrong with it. There is a Black family (Reginald and Loretta Walker, with their daughter Cindy) moving into their neighborhood, to everyone's displeasure. Desiree marries, has a daughter, leaves her husband, and returns to Mallard. Together, they track Stella's location to Boston. Desiree marries a dark-skinned Black man and has a child, while Stella lives her life passing as white. Mallard’s distinction, though the outside world is barely aware of it even as a place on a map, is that it was founded and almost entirely populated by light-skinned Black people. One night at work, she sees a woman (Stella) and the shock makes her drop a bottle of wine. When dismissed from this work, the two go in opposite directions. Why did Brit Bennett title her novel The Vanishing Half? 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. Jude gives Kennedy a photo of their mothers. Stella has not seen her daughter since the incident with the photograph. What do you think about Desiree’s decision to marry a dark-skinned black man, Sam? :). In Part V (1985), Kennedy and Jude end up meeting again in New York. The Vanishing is at its best when anything could happen; as soon as things actually begin to it rapidly loses the audience’s interest. In 1988, George Sluizer made a French-Belgian production, also called "The Vanishing," that was one of the most intelligent thrillers I've seen. What do you think about Jude’s curiosity about Stella? 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. Stella also gives Early her wedding ring to sell off for money to help with Adele's care. As teenagers, what do you think drove Desiree and Stella’s desires to leave the town? Sam is African-American, but Desiree notes that his skin is very dark, unlike that of Desiree and her sister. 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. The Vanishing Half offers us this opportunity extravagantly, opening the door wide to share varied lives, very personally. Already a member? The Vanishing Half content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts. Stella is a light-skinned Black woman passing as white, and Desiree is a light-skinned Black woman who chooses to maintain her Black identity. Meanwhile, the Walkers are harassed and soon move away. The Vanishing Half author Brit Bennett sat down with Trevor Noah to discuss colorism, racial passing, and her thought process when writing the book. Jude realizes their familial connection, motivating Kennedy to uncover Stella's concealed past. 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