Betty is a story inspired by Tiffany McDaniel’s mother, Betty and her family secrets. It’s a story of abuse, racism and poverty but a story of love through the strong connections Betty has with her father Landon and her siblings. It’s also an Appalachian story with Cherokee stories and history. It’s not an easy read at times and might not be for the lighter more gentle minded reader; however, it’s one of those stories that shows us the dark to see the light in the world around us.
It is remarkable, stunningly and shockingly sad and heartbreaking, filled with as much love as it is devasting. It’s the beautiful way it’s written that made it impressive to me. We see the horrors of Betty’s family past and present and my emotions ran wild with the cruelty inflicted on the characters. With Tiffany’s use of words, I could see the beauty she and Betty found in love, family, Betty’s father’s stories and their connection to the Appalachian land. I could feel Tiffany’s passion for telling Betty’s family’s story with all its beauty and ugliness.
“I remember the fierce love and devotion as much as I remember the violence.” “our family tree grew with rotten, broken branches and fungus on the leaves.”
Tiffany McDaniel takes her time here as she paints us a vivid picture of the stories Landan shares with Betty and his ways. The story is rich in the everyday life of the characters that is as bold as it is normal. At times it did feel a bit much for me, making the book feel longer than it needed to be and at times, I lost some focus.
At times the violence might feel relentless because it’s so horrifying but I thought Tiffany McDaniel balanced it with the love, connections and stories she shared with us through Landon. I kept imagining how relentless the violence might have felt for Tiffany and Betty and how much courage they both had in telling their stories.
This is a story that is as beautiful as it is ugly!
This is a story about family. Betty is the daughter of a white mother and Cherokee father. Of all her siblings, Betty develops the most physical traits of her Cherokee heritage. Betty’s father takes pride in teaching his children the stories of his ancestors and passing down his family traditions involving the healing powers of plants and herbs. Betty’s family struggles to fit in no matter where they live, but her family unit keeps her grounded and confident that things will get better. Based on the authors’ mothers’ life, this story is brutally honest, haunting and exceptionally well written.
I will warn you that this is not a book to read if you are feeling emotionally vulnerable in any way. There are several ugly, gut wrenching, dark and horrific scenes. Yet, as uncomfortable as those scenes were to read, the exquisite writing pulled me so deeply inside this family that I simply couldn’t turn away from them. My heart ached for what this family endured, yet I remained hopeful for them.
The main theme of the strong sense of family bond and loyalty was captured so perfectly. I was teary eyed more than a few times while experiencing the love and comfort these siblings offered each other.
This was a sad but beautiful story that I highly recommend.
We received copies from Tiffany McDaniel to read and review.