Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Louisa
For those who have selected the poignant and thought-provoking novel, The Vanishing Half, for their next book club meeting – you’ve picked a good choice!
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett is an award-winning novel that tells the story of twin sisters who grow up in a small, black community in the southern United States and then go on to lead vastly different lives.
From examining issues of race and identity to exploring the bonds of family and the power of choice, The Vanishing Half is a richly layered and emotionally resonant work of fiction, which makes it the perfect read for a book club.
In this blog post, I’ve put together a list of The Vanishing Half book club questions that will help guide your discussion and delve deeper into the themes and characters of this powerful novel.
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Synopsis of The Vanishing Half
The Vanishing Half is a heartfelt book about two twins who grow up in a small black community.
The twins, Stella and Desiree, see an opportunity to escape at the age of 16 and run away. The girls go on to live very different lives, but fate brings them back together.
One of the major themes of this novel is black prejudice and race. It also explores how our past can shape our future, and how decisions, desires, and expectations can force people to live a life different from what they were born into.
It was the winner of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Historical Fiction and nominated for a National Book Award.
Please note that the questions below contain spoilers for the book.
Generic Book Club Questions for The Vanishing Half
Let’s begin the list with some generic questions to get the ball rolling. These questions about The Vanishing Half are designed to encourage every member of your group to say something about the book.
Perhaps you have a shy member of the group or a newbie? These will help give them the confidence to speak up.
- What were your initial impressions of the book?
- Did the book meet or exceed your expectations? Why or why not?
- Does the title give much away about the book? What did you think it was about before reading it?
- Who was your favorite character and why?
- Were there any characters you disliked or found uninteresting?
- How did The Vanishing Half make you feel?
- Who do you think ended up having a better life? Why?
- What did you think of the writing style?
- What themes did you notice throughout the book?
- What parts of the book made you laugh, cry, or feel emotional?
- Did the book remind you of any other books or authors you’ve read?
- What do you think the author’s message or intention was in writing this book?
- Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?
- How would you rate this book on a scale from 1-10?
The Vanishing Half Discussion Questions
Once you’ve gone through the general questions, it’s time to start a meaningful, deeper conversation.
Here are book club discussion questions for The Vanishing Half that I recommend for your group.
- How did you feel once you finished?
- How do you think the town influenced their lives? What are the pros and cons of living in a small community?
- Was there a particular scene or moment that stood out to you as especially noteworthy or powerful?
- Did this story make you feel differently about your own life? Why or why not?
- How do you think the characters developed throughout the story? Did anyone show any deep changes?
- Do you think Loretta suspected Stella wasn’t her true self?
- What do you think about the reunion between Desiree and Stella? Was it predictable?
- Did you find the ending satisfying? Why or why not?
- What are the key principles you have learned from the book? What have you taken away from the story?
- Did the book challenge your assumptions or perspective on any particular issue?
Educated Book Club Questions for The Vanishing Half
If you’re looking to delve into the philosophy and subtle messages of the book, asking these thought-provoking, educated book club questions about The Vanishing Half is a must.
- Britt Bennett writes; “She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.” – what do you think she meant by this?
- One of the major themes of this novel is living an alternate life to what you were born into. Do you think that you can ever escape your past? What are the consequences of living a lie?
- Let’s think about the twin’s kids, Jude and Kennedy. What do you think the effect of their mother’s living a lie will have on their life?
- Stella decides to take on a new identity and poses for a white woman. Why do you think she wanted to be white, especially given what happened to her father?
- When their father is murdered by white men, there is no justice for the family. Why do you think the two twins reacted to it in different ways?
5 Suggestions for What to Read Next
You now have a set of discussion questions for your book club meeting. It’s time to start planning for the next one.
To help, I’ve compiled a list of recommended books for you to consider.
1. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Vanishing Half is a poignant book about family and prejudice, so if you want to read something else that has a poignant message and heartfelt characters, then try The Book Thief next.
The story follows Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich, in War-torn Nazi Germany. Each day she scavenges for food and clothes by stealing, but there’s one thing she can’t resist – books.
Only books are banned in Germany, and to own them pays a terrible price. Her foster father teaches her to read and she shares the books with their neighbors during bombing raids.
She also shared them with the Jewish man who’s hiding in their basement.
The Book Thief is a gripping tale of love, loss, and redemption.
Read more: Giver of Stars book club questions...
2. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a critically acclaimed book that is now a movie.
This story centers around Kya Clark, who is known as the Marsh Girl in the small fishing town of Barkley Cove.
Even though Kya has lived in solitude with nature, she’s at a point in her life where she is curious about what it’s like to be loved.
Her attention is drawn toward two local young men, each one captivated by Kya’s beauty and unique way of life.
She is excited to see where this will lead her, but then the worst happens. A local boy is found dead, and everyone expects hers.
If you’re looking for a book to read next that has a mysterious plot and a swoon-worthy romance, then this is a good fit. It also has plot twists that will have your jaw on the floor.
Related post: Books like Where The Crawdads Sing
3. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr is one of those writers who put pen to paper, turning it into gold instantly. His most notable book is All The Lights We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction in 2015.
An incredibly descriptive, beautifully written novel set at the height of WW2, we follow the story of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl who lives with her father in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Fleeing to the historic town of Saint-Malo in Western France, they move in with her uncle, carrying an extremely precious jewel from the museum where her father works.
We then follow Werner’s story, a young German orphan who becomes part of the infamous Hitler Youth.
Traveling to Saint-Malo as part of Germany’s war efforts, Werner and Marie-Laure’s stories merge and we’re left with an emotional novel, full of astounding imagery thanks to Doerr’s captivating writing style.
4. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow is a highly esteemed novel by author Amor Towles. This story focuses on Count Alexander Rostov, a presumed unrepentant aristocrat sentenced to house arrest in Metropol, a grand hotel, in 1922.
While Rostov is confined within the walls of the hotel, pivotal events are happening outside its doors.
He was known as a man with knowledge and wit, yet had never worked a day before his incarceration.
However, rather than breaking him down, his isolation allowed him to find his true self.
5. The Guest List – Lucy Foley
If you’re looking for something totally different, then The Guest List is a great book club read. It’s a thriller story that is written in reverse, so the ending starts at the beginning.
In this gripping tale, the story centers around a group of individuals with complicated family histories, unresolved grudges, and past friendships who have gathered on the enchanting beach to celebrate the nuptials of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.
The novel expertly captures the wedding day festivities, from the idyllic beach setting to the nitty-gritty of the ceremony.
However, the joyous occasion takes a dark turn when a guest is mysteriously found dead. Shocked and anxious, the attendees are trapped in an unexpected situation with no easy way out.
As the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that someone had a motive for keeping the couple from tying the knot. The question remains, who harbored such a grudge and why did they choose this blissful day of union to unleash their deadly intent?
Related post: The Guest List Book Club Questions
Final Word on The Vanishing Half Book Club Questions
So there you have it, those were the best book club questions on The Vanishing Half. I hope that these helped you start and drive the conversation at your next meeting.
If you had any interesting questions come up about this book, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.