A review by abbyb23
Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

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


Betty is a beautiful book that I rushed through, because I loved the story so much that I wanted to read it as quickly as possible. It’s also a book I would be very hesitant to recommend, because of the many sections of triggering content. 

The trigger warnings for this book are very extensive, which makes it a very emotionally heavy read. To my understanding, Betty is to some degree a biographical work, telling the life stories of the author’s family, through the perspective of her mother, Betty. The upsetting aspects of this book are told in a way that fleshes out the characters and shows the nuances of a real family. I think that this book works because, despite the violence that the book deals with at many points, it also tells a beautiful story. It follows Betty as she grows up, telling sweet stories and upsetting ones. This book is very much based around the traditions and folk stories told by Betty’s father, a Cherokee man. It makes the book incredibly interesting to read, as you see the ways the characters connect with nature and their identity. 

I’m not a person who cries often, but the ending genuinely made me cry, to the point where I could not see through the tears. It’s beautiful in a heartbreaking way, all the way through. 

To close: as much as I loved this book, I would not feel comfortable recommending it to most people. If you aren’t comfortable reading about violence in any detail, this is not the book for you. But, if you are looking for a gritty but touching story, I think Betty is a perfect one. I think this a book that would be very validated to people with experiences covered in it, as the writing shines a light on the things most families do not speak about, and how to heal from them. I will also say, if you enjoyed The Miseducation of Cameron Post, this book reminded me a lot of it. The type of setting, year by year storytelling, and hard topics are similar in both stories. 

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