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‘NOT A STORY YOU WILL SOON FORGET’ Karen Joy Fowler, author of Man Booker Prize finalist We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

‘A girl comes of age against the knife.’ So begins the story of Betty Carpenter.

Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty and violence – both from outside the family and also, devastatingly, from within. When her family’s darkest secrets are brought to light, Betty 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 in her rural town of Breathed, Ohio.

Despite the hardship 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 she bears witness to, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write.

A heartbreaking yet magical story, Betty is a punch-in-the-gut of a novel – full of the crushing cruelty of human nature and the redemptive power of words.


Tiffany McDaniel has given us a vivid and haunting portrait of the writer as a young girl. Betty Carpenter survives the brutality of her childhood through her father's stories and his steadfast belief in her own. A novel of tragedy and trouble, poetry and power, not a story you will soon forget.
Karen Joy Fowler, Booker Prize shortlisted author of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDES OURSELVES
Magical, densely lyrical and often disturbing. Tiffany McDaniel follows in the tradition of The Color Purple with her unflinching portrayal of the generational ripples of racism, poverty, and abuse. Shot through with moonshine, Bible verses, and folklore, Betty is about the cruelty we inflict on one another, the beauty we still manage to find, and the stories we tell in order to survive.
Eowyn Ivey, author of THE SNOW CHILD
This novel broke my brain. The lush, hypnotic prose, the voice, so authentic and compelling, as Betty Carpenter holds your hand and leads you through a world filled with familial tragedy. Each more haunting than the last, until you're left holding your breath, with a tourniquet on your heart. This is powerful, relentless storytelling at its best.
Betty is Betty Carpenter's gripping coming of age story and is bold, inventive and profoundly moving. It is not a story blind to the character's abuse, but also reveals the love, sweetness, and magic in her life. Betty is too brown, too female and too poor for the world, but her story reminds us that despite all obstacles there are those blessed times when we can still manage to find our voices and sing. A triumph!
Stephanie Powell Watts, author of NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US
A painful, powerful, transcendent story . . . Tiffany McDaniel's distinctive, poetic prose lets us know at the outset that something unique is going on in these pages. Bit by bit, she draws us into her 'other world' with amazing skill; and, before we realize it, we are like wide-eyed children, enthralled as we once were, as we listened to a story from Grimm's Fairy Tales. Yet, this is no fairytale for children. Rather, it is an intricate, complex mosaic of myths that explores the ways in which the imagination can bring hope into our lives during difficult times. With her depth as a poet and her boldness as a storyteller, the author has created an unforgettable novel. It stays in our imagination, long after we've read the last word.
Gwyn Hyman Rubio, author of THE WOODMAN'S DAUGHTER
Tiffany McDaniel gives voice to those on the fringes. Betty is a coming-of-age novel that has the courage to look into the darkness and to find the light. Betty Carpenter tells the story of her family with empathy and passion and heart. This is a book for anyone who's ever stood on the outside looking in, or for anyone who's ever scorned the unfortunate. It's a book for our uncertain times, one that has much to show us about family, about want, about love.
Lee Martin, author of THE BRIGHT FOREVER
I felt consumed by the ambitious enormity and sadness of this book. Betty is about the power of words and the language it is written in rings with this. I loved it, you will love it.
Daisy Johnson, Booker Prize shortlisted author of EVERYTHING UNDER and SISTERS
I loved Betty: I fell for its strong characters and was moved by the story it portrayed. McDaniel deals with the passage of time with subtlety and skill and the descriptions of the rolling hills of Ohio were really beautiful.
Fiona Mozley, Booker Prize shortlisted author of ELMET
So engrossing! Tiffany McDaniel's Betty is a page-turning Appalachian coming-of-age story steeped in Cherokee history, told in undulating prose that settles right into you.
Naoise Dolan, Sunday Times bestselling author of EXCITING TIMES
There's a good chance you haven't read a family saga like Betty... Their story is simultaneously extraordinary (they are subjected to unthinkable racism, financial hardships, and untimely deaths) and run-of-the-mill (at the heart, they are a family like any other). Each day in their life is supplanted with the mysticism and interconnectedness of their father's traditions, offering a light at the end of a very dark plot tunnel.
Entertainment Weekly
Los Angeles Times
Despite the beauty of the landscape and the poetry of the language, this is not an easy read. Yes, it flows beautifully, but there are depths to explore and layer upon layer of meaning. It is worth the journey... At one stage, I put the novel aside but Betty kept calling me back. I wanted to know what happened. I'm glad I did. Once I had finished the book, I wanted to start again simply so that I could savour some of the language and the Cherokee wisdom. (I also wanted to give Betty a hug and tell her it would be OK.) This is a book that will stay with you.
Irish Independent
Betty is woven of many things, light and dark, and most of all it is life in all its shades: all its brilliances and disappointments, sadnesses and hopes. Vivid and lucid, Betty has stayed with me.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of THE MERCIES