The IWAM Book Club in March discussed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Continue reading for a review of this book by Sam Frearson-Tubito.
The novel is set in several locations during different time periods moving in a non-linear way. The story begins in the small village of Mallard, Louisiana, then skips to New Orleans, New York, Southern California, and then back to Mallard. The plot concerns identical twins Desiree and Stella Vignes, who leave their small Louisiana village at 16 to seek their fortune in New Orleans. Ten years later, their lives have gone in completely different directions. Desiree has fled an abusive marriage to a Black man and brought her daughter back to Mallard. Stella is passing for White, is married to a businessman, has a daughter with him, and lives in California.
Much of the novel recounts Desiree’s search for her missing twin and how Desiree’s daughter completes that search. In the process, the book explores how identity is constructed, the role that self-loathing plays in creating an alternate persona, and how those who are different from the norm in some way, shape, or form easily feel and are treated as outcasts.
Would I recommend this book to others?
I thoroughly enjoyed each chapter and the characters, and I highly recommend it to fiction and historical fiction lovers. Brilliant and complex, engaging, and thought-provoking. I highly recommend reading it, if you haven’t already.
What are we reading next time?
The next Book Club meeting is on Wednesday April 19th, where we will be discussing Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. So, if you’d like to join the book club, please contact Sam or Elizabeth.