A review by unfiltered_fiction
Betty, by Tiffany McDaniel

dark emotional reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


Betty is the semi-biographical story of a half-Cherokee girl who was born to a family plagued with loss, pain, and fear. It is a tribute to the author's mother, and it is the most painstakingly beautiful coming of age story that I have ever had the privilege of reading.

I knew within a dozen pages that this book would take root in my heart, and stay there for a long time to come. I ordered Tiffany McDaniel's other book (The Summer That Melted Everything) as soon as I finished Betty, and ordered a second copy of Betty as a gift before I was even halfway through the book.

This book will claw at you and comfort you. It weaves beauty and goodness with evil and cruelty, creating a densely rich tapestry of human nature. You will finish it cherishing every good relationship with another human being that you have ever had, and knowing that you can survive whatever the world throws at you in the time to come. You will be wrung out and reinvigorated, renewed in the way that only the very best art can achieve.

Every time the tragedies of the Carpenter family seem unbearable, McDaniel lifts the reader, gasping for air, into a moment of sublime beauty. The odes to nature, art, and family throughout this book speak directly from one soul to another. In the beauty of the natural world, the skill of each character's artistry, and the unfathomable capacity of even the most wounded hearts to love, McDaniel reminds us why and how we persevere through times that seem impossible to survive.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough; but please bear in mind that it comes with heavy trigger warnings for violence, sexual abuse, racism, and death.

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