Twins Stella and Desiree Vignes are two halves of a whole, but when one leaves, readers are left with “The Vanishing Half.”
On April 1, as part of the One Book One Community program, the Bedford Branch Library hosted a Zoom meeting with author of “The Vanishing Half,” Brit Bennett.
With over 25 people in attendance, participants showed excitement to listen and ask Bennett questions regarding the storyline of her book and what inspired her to write the novel.
Bennett conveys the difficulties of facing racism through the treatment of her characters, showing the systemic struggles the two sisters go through to provide a life they didn’t have for their daughters.
Bennett’s novel takes place in the 1960s and late 1970s during the Civil Rights movement.
Craig Hammond, a student at MCCC, attended the meeting and noted that after reading the book and listening to Bennett’s Zoom he wasn’t expecting her explanation for the book’s inspiration.
Bennett explained that the inspiration for the story came from stories and recollections of her mother’s childhood.
She said her mother grew up in a small town in Louisiana called Mallard, the town where “The Vanishing Half” takes place.
Bennett said she chose to write on the topic of racism because she wanted to write about history and acknowledge it in a way that all her readers could relate to.
“Racism is unknowable,” Bennett said. “It can leave as quick as it comes.”
Assistant professor of English Michele Toll said she had her humanities classes read “The Vanishing Half” during the Winter Semester.
Toll said she found the meeting with Bennett fascinating.
She said her favorite piece of Bennett’s advice for aspiring writers to “be patient with yourself.”
Bennett said “The Vanishing Half” released at a critical time in June 2020 near the death of George Floyd and the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bennett said while the book covered racism during the 1900s and the modern era, she wanted to discuss other issues that were relevant to her audience, such as finding your path in life.
She said members of the community loved talking to her and learning about what inspired her to write her novel, answering their questions such as providing clarification toward the ending of the book.
For community members who were unable to attend the event, a recorded version of the Zoom meeting can be found at https://youtube.com/watch?v=Gpw51jNThwQ.