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Friday, August 21, 2020

Review: Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

by Tiffany McDaniel 

Thank you to the author for this copy.

Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: August 18, 2020
Kindle Edition
480 Pages
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction

A stunning, lyrical novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians in which a young girl discovers stark truths that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

"A girl comes of age against the knife."

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty and violence--both from outside the family, and also, devastatingly, from within. The lush landscape, rich with birdsong, wild fruit, and blazing stars, becomes a kind of refuge for Betty, but when her family's darkest secrets are brought to light, she has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties and incredible characters she encounters in her rural town of Breathed, Ohio.

But despite the hardship she faces, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters, and her father's brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, and in the face of all she bears witness to, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write. She recounts the horrors of her family's past and present with pen and paper and buries them deep in the dirt--moments that has stung her so deeply, she could not tell them, until now.

Inspired by the life of her own mother, Tiffany McDaniel sets out to free the past by telling this heartbreaking yet magical story--a remarkable novel that establishes her as one of the freshest and most important voices in American fiction.

My Review:

HOW MUCH DOES A FAMILY NEED TO ENDURE?! Phew! Y'all know I'm a binge reader but I took my sweet time with this one.  Granted, I had things going on in my life that needed attending to that also slowed down my reading process but this is a book you want to eat one word at a time.

Betty is a biracial, White/Cherokee, girl growing up in times were people were *less* accepting and we see her POV throughout this read.  It's heart breaking, vivid, beautiful, creative and you are instantly drawn into her world.  Equally horrified, happy, worried, feeling all the feelings that she does.  This was certainly a roller coaster for my heart to go through.  The bullying and prejudice her and her family faced was hard to read for sure, but that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what also happened internally within her own family. PHEW.  Readers, I am not one that is easily triggered.... but if you are, prepare yourself for this read because it basically hits on about every trigger out there.

What I loved best about this read is how beautifully it was written, learning so much about the Cherokee culture and feeling more at one with nature than I ever have! The way the author captures just about every tragedy that can happen within a family is honestly nothing like anything I've read before.  But there is the undercurrent of hope.  Of family strife, grief, hardship.... but also filled with loyalty and love.  

Now, I read a ton of fucked up books and enjoy them tremendously.  But knowing the premise behind why the author wrote this story and the beautiful way she captured everything in its lyrical beauty is truly impressive.  Don't let the unassuming cover fool you.  This book is chock full of beauty ... even in its most horrific form.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review!! This was such a difficult read for me to get though, but SO powerful!!