Betty: A novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Tiffany McDaniel’s Betty is both macabre and sublime. Echoing authors like William Gay and Toni
Morrison, the book presents American gothic in a way that is at times as deeply disturbing as one might expect. However, what makes this book exceptional is that McDaniel understands and respects her audience enough to know when and about what her reader needs to be deeply disturbed. Betty is a novel that transcends its own darkness and yet never fully sheds the shadows that haunt and shape its characters from beginning to end. I would argue that there is more of hope and redemption in Betty than struggle, horror, and grief, but, agree with that or not, it is an undeniable pleasure to read Tiffany McDaniel write about it all. Betty is an excellent book. Read it and be glad you did.

— J. Hendricks

September 2020 Indie Next List

“In the inspiring novel Betty, Tiffany McDaniel shares a tough and gritty story based primarily on her mother’s upbringing. Brimming with a sense of magic in the natural world set against the cruelty and violence within her family, Betty walks us through a childhood filled with both good and evil, and shows us that one can survive and come out the other side in one piece, fractured and whole at the same time. A book that should be read by all.”
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT


A stunning, lyrical novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians about a young girl and the family 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 white mother and a Cherokee father, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit in the rural town of Breathed, Ohio, is one of poverty and violence—both from outside the family and, devastatingly, from within. But despite the hardships 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 to which she bears witness, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write. 

Inspired by generations of her family, Tiffany McDaniel sets out to free the past by delivering this heartbreaking yet magical story—a remarkable novel that establishes her as one of the most important voices in American fiction.

About the Author

TIFFANY McDANIEL is a novelist, poet, and visual artist born and raised in Ohio. She is the author of The Summer That Melted Everything.

Praise For…


“Innovative . . . devastating. . . . A brilliant, expansive exploration of family and grief.” 
The Guardian

“The book is rich with the texture of everyday living. It’s these details that sing Betty to life and bring readers fully into the Appalachian landscape and the social milieu of Breathed.” 
The Los Angeles Times


“Prepare to be undone. . . . This is one of those rare books . . . that is so stunning, so beautiful, so piercing, you could never forget it. . . . Wow, wow, wow.”

“Sumptuous and intimate.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“This book will break your heart open, in the best way.”
Good Housekeeping

“A traditional beach read this is not — unless your idea of a beach read involves ugly sobbing for a few hundred pages. But [Betty] is so beautiful you won't care about the tears.” 
Entertainment Weekly

“Gorgeous. . . . A plaintive coming of age narrative.” 

“Fierce, vividly realized.”
The Columbus Dispatch

“Members of this hardscrabble family stride through their Ohio community like minor gods, leaving amazement in their wake. Highly recommended; a coming-of-age novel that is a treat for lovers of stylistic prose.”
Library Journal

“Epic, lyrical . . . McDaniel’s sophomore work is a sweeping and heart-wrenching exploration of how we understand our parents’ lives and how our children will one day understand our own.”  
Booklist (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9781984897947
ISBN-10: 1984897942
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: July 13th, 2021
Pages: 496
Language: English