The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett
Discussion Questions:
1. Stella and Desiree Vignes grow up identical and, as children, inseparable. Later, they are not only separated, but lost to each other, completely out of contact. What series of events and experiences leads to this division and why? Was it inevitable, after their growing up so indistinct from each other?

2. When did you notice cracks between the twins begin to form? Do you understand why Stella made the choice she did? What did Stella have to give up, in order to live a different kind of life? Was it necessary to leave Desiree behind? Do you think Stella ultimately regrets her choices? What about Desiree?

3. Consider the various forces that shape the twins into the people they become, and the forces that later shape their respective daughters. In the creation of an individual identity or sense of self, how much influence do you think comes from upbringing, geography, race, gender, class, education? Which of these are mutable and why? Have you ever taken on or discarded aspects of your own identity?

4. Kennedy is born with everything handed to her, Jude with comparatively little. What impact do their relative privileges have on the people they become? How does it affect their relationships with their mothers and their understanding of home? How does it influence the dynamic between them?

5. The town of Mallard is small in size but looms large in the personal histories of its residents. How does the history of this town and its values affect the twins and their parents; how does it affect "outsiders" like Early and later Jude? Do you understand why Desiree decides to return there as an adult? What does the depiction of Mallard say about who belongs to what communities, and how those communities are formed and enforced?

6. Many of the characters are engaged in a kind of performance at some point in the story. Kennedy makes a profession of acting, and ultimately her fans blur the line between performance and reality when they confuse her with her soap opera character. Barry performs on stage in theatrical costumes that he then removes for his daytime life. Reese takes on a new wardrobe and role, but it isn't a costume. One could say that Stella's whole marriage and neighborhood life is a kind of performance. What is the author saying about the roles we perform in the world? Do you ever feel you are performing a role rather than being yourself? How does that compare to what some of these characters are doing? Consider the distinction between performance, reinvention, and transformation in respect to the different characters in the book.

7. Desiree's job as a fingerprint analyst in Washington DC is to use scientific methods to identify people through physical, genetic details. Why do you think the author chose this as a profession for her character? Where else do you see this theme of identity and identification in the book?

8. Compare and contrast the love relationships in the novel -Desiree and Early, Stella and Blake, and Reese and Jude. What are their separate relationships with the truth? How much does telling the truth or obscuring it play a part in the functionality of a relationship? How much does the past matter in each case?

9. What does Stella feel she has to lose in California, if she reveals her true identity to her family and her community? When Loretta, a black woman, moves in across the street, what does she represent for Stella? What do Stella's interactions with Loretta tell us about Stella's commitment to her new identity?

Book Club Talking Points:
This story explores bigotry, personal choices, identity, and white privilege. It shows that racism and prejudice exists within a community of the same color. It's well-written and thought-provoking.

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)


More Reading Suggestions
Popular Books
If you have a passion for reading and, like most, have no time to find the right book, browse the most popular books trending right now. They are all page-turners, and they all let you escape from reality.

Popular Book-  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, THE SONG OF ACHILLES is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer's enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously...More


Popular Book-The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this entrancing novel "that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all" (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the...More


Popular The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman's act of violence against her husband-and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Alicia Berenson's life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter...More


Popular Book- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Circe
By Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child-not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for ...More


Popular Book- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren
AFor two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime-maybe even love-in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky ...More


Visit Our Blog
Browse A Little
PBR book reviews and Reading guides for book clubs
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Pintrest Follow us on InstaGram
Visit out Etsy Shop
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending
Etsy Happy Halloween