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Publisher's Summary

One of Glamour's Best Books of the Year
An Entertainment Weekly Must-Read

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. The lush landscape, rich with birdsong, wild fruit, and blazing stars, becomes a kind of refuge for Betty, but when her family's darkest secrets are brought to light, she has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties and incredible characters she encounters.

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. She recounts the horrors of her family's past and present with pen and paper and buries them deep in the dirt - moments that have stung her so deeply she could not share them, until now.

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.

©2020 Tiffany McDaniel (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

An Indie Next "Great Read for September"
O Magazine's "Best Books to Pick Up Before Summer Ends"
Entertainment Weekly's "20 Late-Summer Must-Reads for August"
E! Online's "17 Books to Check Out Before the End of Summer"
Sheerluxe's "Six New Books to Read This August"
Salon's "Provocative Must-Reads for August" 

"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." (Ilana Masad, The Los Angeles Times)

"This book will break your heart open, in the best way." (Good Housekeeping, Lizz Schumer)

What listeners say about Betty

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Well

This story was 418 pages (17 hrs) I sync of pure misery on every page. Biases and stereotypes come to life in this story. The reader was chosen for her ability to embrace the accent and ignorance in a culture where only white men are important. Cruelty, abuse, where few survive and those that do are forever damaged. Not a feel good book. Realistic of “mans” ability to be evil

6 people found this helpful

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  • JP
  • 09-25-20

Best book ever

Did you love Educated, or Where The Crawdads Sing... this book is just as good- if not better. Beautifully written, a testament of shining through a rough childhood and the power of love between a father and daughter... Don’t want to give anything away... but all I can say is this is definitely the best book I’ve read this year.

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I've never had real tears streaming down my face because of a book before... Oh Yes, this book will stay with me for the rest of my life.

But beware::: every trigger that exists will be triggered by reading Betty. There's child sex abuse, child death, incest, and animal cruelty.

I've never been able to stomach reading about animal cruelty descriptions, but I soldiered on. I'm glad I did. Absolutely well worth the credit

5 people found this helpful

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EXCELLENT!

The Story, Reader, Emotion, just Everything was excellent. I Highly Recommend this book, made me laugh and cry.

4 people found this helpful

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No words!

I have no words to adequately describe how deeply I experienced this book and how much it means to me. It is the amazing story of the multi-layered complexities a family: both the close and beautiful relationships as well as the troubled and twisted. This book will stay with me for a long, long time.

4 people found this helpful

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My heart is made of glass

One of the best books I have read. Beautiful words, haunting beautiful story. I was really moved by this book, I cried several time.

3 people found this helpful

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Favorite book of 2020

This book stirred my soul. It was just as beautiful as McDaniel's 2016 book, The Summer That Melted Everything. No question, this is my favorite book of 2020.

2 people found this helpful

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Haunting and unforgettable.

This story is brilliantly written and performed. It is also not for the faint of heart. Brutal and beautiful and dark and painful. Betty is one of the most memorable protagonists in modern times.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic storytelling

Betty is a story ultimately about resilience in the face of violence. It’s about family and the flawed people within and their secrets. At times I found that a lot of the characters were hard to like but not hard to love and have some compassion for and some hatred for. At times I found myself having to fast forward, some scenes were too hard to hear and to violent to handle for me. Some left me feeling raw. I always had to prepare myself for the next chapter whether it would be kindness I’d hear or cruelty. Guess that’s how life works sometimes!
Ultimately, I loved this book and I want to get the hard copy!
Dale Dickey did a great job narrating and had a range with the characters. What an amazing voice!!!

1 person found this helpful

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Holy Cow!!!!

The best and most saddest books I’ve ever read!!!
It held my interest the entire 14 hours And some minutes. Dale Dickey is the most amazing narrator!!! Her voice becomes each character!!!