When Betty's family's darkest secrets are brought to light, she has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters, and her father's 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.
...a brutal and moving story about the legacy of abuse passed down through generations and the power of words to stop the cycle ... It is an insightful book that takes on sexual abuse, racism, sexism and suicide and weaves them together into a compelling narrative ... McDaniel draws a line from this cultural rape to the history of sexual abuse within one family. To say too much about these incidences would detract from the plot, but abuse and mental health issues are passed down through the generations like a grenade ... With its troubling subject matter, emotional punch and the backdrop of racism in mid-century America, Betty has echoes of Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple. McDaniel’s writing, however, lacks the rigour of her predecessor. The heavily lyrical style misfires at times ... As the litany of abuses piles up, the book veers more towards Flowers in the Attic than The Color Purple ... What saves Betty from a total descent into melodrama is the very serious intent that underpins each section ... Betty is not an easy read but it’s an important book that seeks to free those in the present from the injustices of the past.
Tiffany McDaniel deftly writes of her mother’s coming of age in the rural Appalachian hills of southeastern Ohio ... Tiffany McDaniel writes of her mother Betty’s life, as it was, in a harsh and oftentimes brutal world. Despite this, McDaniel shows that her story is not without beauty, from the descriptive prose revealing the lovely landscape, hills and backwoods of Ohio, to the emotional and oftentimes heartwarming and inspiring events between Betty’s parents and siblings ... For all of the unkindness and sorrows shared within these pages, Betty is truly a story not to be missed.
In McDaniel’s telling, 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.