Tales & Teacups Book Club discussion

The Vanishing Half
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Lexie (talesandteacups) | 76 comments Mod
Hey all! I am excited to announce that the T&T book club pick for September-October will be "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett.

This book has gotten a lot of love here on Goodreads and Booktube and I am super excited to pick it up. I think this will be an interesting, diverse read and I hope it will help bring forward discussions about racism in America.

The deadline to finish this book and submit your comments or video commentary will be October 30th, 2020. As always, if you would like to be featured in my discussion video please email me at talesandteacupsbooks@gmail.com.

-Lexie


Lisa (lisa_angel) | 23 comments I’m really excited to read this one. I’m reading it for my local virtual bookclub in September so I’ll share my thoughts.


Lindsey Burke (lburke) | 2 comments So far, I'm loving the book! I just started part 3, and it already has my anxiety going for Desiree, can't imagine what it will be like for Stella!


Lexie (talesandteacups) | 76 comments Mod
4/5.

This was a touching and thought provoking novel. It discusses a lot of important themes such as racial identity and how it plays an significant role in how we see ourselves.

My main takeaway from this book is that even though race is a social discourse and something that doesn't exist, it still has an significant impact on how we define who we are and how that creates physical and emotional barriers.

It was really interesting to see how each twin's decision impacted their lives and that of their daughters.

My biggest complaint was that I didn't feel very connected to the characters and that sometimes because the plot is mostly told through memories, it sometimes suffered from pacing issues. However, I was still invested in their stories despite not really feeling connected to them.

Nevertheless, I feel like this is an important novel that everyone needs to read in order to understand racism and how race plays an important role in how we and the world define ourselves.

I couldn't believe what it must be like to be Stella and that constant stress and fear of she has in letting the world know her secrets. I think the author did an amazing job at showing how changing her racial identity to white was so important for her in order to feel fulfilled with life, but at the same time, it was ruining her relationships with those around her.


Lindsey Burke (lburke) | 2 comments I feel the same way! it was captivating to read and to have so many thoughts at the same time. I do have to agree on the characters. I felt for them, but I wasnt feeling WITH them. Very good read, and for sure touches on a lot of important things we all need to think about.


Lisa (lisa_angel) | 23 comments 4/5

You really picked a good one again Lexie. I really don’t know where to begin with this one. I finished it over the weekend and I really had to take some time to think and process everything. As a black woman from the Caribbean I experienced so many emotions while reading this book yet it was hard for me to connect with the characters. This book really made me think about my life as a black woman and how challenging it can really be. Someone made the conscious choice to live like a white woman and that really makes me angry and also sad. There are people in this world who’s skin is so light they can pass as white to experience a life free of judgement/racial injustice/struggle yet those of us who have darker skin have to deal with racial injustice in so many forms.

*Stella*
Stella made the choice to live her life as a white woman which is fine, however I couldn’t understand why she behaved like a racist knowing she was black. She wins the academy award for best actress because she was a way better actress than her daughter Kennedy who chose the profession. She really has no happiness even though from the outside looking in, it may seem like she has it all. She really has no idea who she really is and until she can be honest with herself about where she comes from and acknowledge she’s a black women, she will have no peace. She will continue to live her life looking over her shoulder and wondering if every black person she comes in contact with will know her secret. I had to try and view things from her perspective because there were a few times when I just had to call Stella a bitch. Not to be harsh but it took me some time to really see things from her perspective and by the end of the book I felt sorry for her.

*Desiree*
Desiree chose to just live her life but unfortunately she married an abusive man who she had to run away from in order to save her life and protect her daughter. This is a woman with a tremendous amount of strength and courage. Emotionally she was a wreck and I really don’t know how she made it from day to day. Not only did she have to deal with an abusive relationship which lead to low self-esteem, but she had to deal with her sister abandoning her, going back to a town she knew would talk about her then take care of her mother. I’m so glad her mother welcomed her home and not talk about her running away. With the support of her mother and Early she was able to raise her daughter and live a decent life.

Below are just a few topics we could really dive into:

There are so many things to discuss within this book and I wished we could have a verbal conversation. This book looked at the dynamics of relationships, identity and race. The title “The Vanishing Half” is the perfect title because all the characters had some part of themselves vanish in some way.

*Race*
This topic we can talk about for ages

*Relationships*
Desiree’s relationship with her sister, daughter, mother and Early

Stella’s relationship with her sister, daughter, husband, friends, neighbor, herself

Jude’s relationship with Reece who’s transgendered and her relationship with her cousin Kennedy

Mother daughter relationships (Twins with their mother Adele, their relationships with their own daughters)

Friendship (Stella and Loretta), (Kennedy and Jude)

*Identity*
Stella – pretending she’s white

Reece - transgendered

Barry – drag queen

Kennedy – struggling with accepting being black

*Vanishing Half*
The twins – missing/loosing each other

Stella – she’s lost herself/identity

Adele (twins mother) – lost her memory

Kennedy – not fully knowing who she is

Reece – ran away from the life she had to now embracing who he is


Thanks for choosing this book for your book club. Please feel free to use info from this in your video review.


Lexie (talesandteacups) | 76 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "4/5

You really picked a good one again Lexie. I really don’t know where to begin with this one. I finished it over the weekend and I really had to take some time to think and process everything. A..."


Hi Lisa,

Thank you so much for you in depth review. I am glad you liked the book. I feel liked it touched on so many important topics and themes.

I agree with you that although I felt a lot of feelings for the characters, I never felt emotionally attached to them.

Stella was a character that I had very mixed feelings about. I totally agree with your frustration towards her. For me, I interpreted her racism as a manifestation of her insecurities and self-hatred. Part of this too could be because of her upbringing and being told that she was less than because of the colour of her skin. I think her anger for this resonated into racism and was her way of showing others that she isn't like them and to further distance herself from who she truly is. Our insecurities - which in Stella's case was the colour of her skin - are loud.

I really enjoy your interpretation of the vanishing half and how every character had lost some part of who they are. I think it really makes you think about how we lose a part of ourselves either through the decisions we make and/or the discourses set it place in our society.

What I think is really unique about this book is that it can be read by people of different backgrounds but they are able to get so much out of it.


Lisa (lisa_angel) | 23 comments Lexie wrote: "Lisa wrote: "4/5

You really picked a good one again Lexie. I really don’t know where to begin with this one. I finished it over the weekend and I really had to take some time to think and process ..."


That's a great point about Stella's anger which resonated into racism and her way of showing others she isn't like them. I think this really showed in the conversations and relationship she had with Loretta.


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