Betty by Tiffany McDaniel is a beautifully written and absolutely gut-wrenching story about a family that goes through far more than any family should ever have to. But even through the darkness, the main character, Betty, was still able to be a guiding light for this family.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
For me, this book felt like a never-ending series of gut punches. The number of things that this poor girl dealt with while growing up was so intense. From racism to some very violent acts she witnessed within her family, it’s amazing to me that she was able to still stay positive.
One of the most difficult parts for me was seeing something really dark happen, to be immediately followed by something lighter as Betty tried to get the darkness out of her head. Of course, some of the darkness stuck around, deeply ingrained in her mind and in her stories that she buried. But it was heartbreaking to me that she had to go through a lot of this, let alone that most of it happened when she was so young and didn’t get understand the full extent of what was happening.
Even more heartbreaking was realizing that she actually did understand, and perhaps on a deeper level than anyone could have realized.
So a heads up to anyone who picks this one up, it needs a whole slew of trigger warnings. There are elements of homophobia, incest, suicide, self-harm, murder, rape, child abuse, abortion, child death, a dog death, and more.
But the darkness was only part of it!
There were so many beautiful scenes too. Like Betty offering to help Lint whenever he feels a storm brewing in his mind. Trustin working on his art or painting eyes on Lint’s rocks. Betty and Flossie putting their goodnights in a jar for Fraya. All of the kids working in the garden with their dad. And so much more!
The elements that were shared about the Cherokee culture was absolutely wonderful to read about. This certainly made me want to get back in touch with nature again. The father in the story also really reminded me of my Papa, who believe in plant-based things over western world medicines.
So yes, while there was a lot of darkness, there was also a lot of love, loyalty, and hope! The writing style was absolutely beautiful, and flowed like poetry in some areas.
My Favorite Passages from Betty
“Well, a man who beats a woman leaves me with little more than anger. The type of anger I can taste in the back of my throat. And boy is it a bad taste.”
My father’s hands were soil. My mother’s were rain. No wonder they could not hold one another without causing enough mud for two. And yet out of that mud, they built us a house that became a home.
“You’ll need to watch out for those who spread gossip as easily as dandelions spread their seed,” he said. “But really keep an eye on the ones who live on decay, like the fungus that grows on hurt or weak trees.”
“Funny how the night makes everything so spooky,” she said as a gust of wind came and seemed to rattle the ground.
It’d be so much easier if the bad things in our lives were kept in our skin that we could shed off like a snake. Then we could leave all the dried horrid things on the ground and step forward, free from them.
“Don’t let it happen to you, Betty. Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself. You don’t wanna live so long only to realize, you ain’t lived at all.”
My Final Thoughts on Betty
At the end of the book, I felt totally exhausted, but I’m so glad that I read this. What a wonderful, but difficult read! I have never read anything like it.
This book will make your blood boil. It will make you want to scream at the unfairness of it all. It will totally get under your skin. But most of all, it will show you how resilient people are when faced with the most impossible things, and it will fill you with hope.
Rating this one a four out of five as I don’t think I would personally be able to read this again. But I certainly highly recommend this one to all that are able to read it, just mind the trigger warnings.
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Thanks for reading!