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Publisher Description


'So engrossing! 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

'I felt consumed by this book. I loved it, you will love it'
Daisy Johnson, Booker Prize shortlisted author of Everthing Under

'I loved Betty: I fell for its strong characters and was moved by the story it portrayed'
Fiona Mozley, Booker Prize shortlisted author of Elmet

'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.

'Not a story you will soon forget'
Karen Joy Fowler, Booker Prize shortlisted author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

'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

Fiction & Literature
18 August
Hachette Australia Pty Ltd

Customer Reviews

rhitc ,


American novelist, poet, and visual artist who lives in Ohio. Her first novel The Summer That Melted Everything (2016) was well received. This is her second published novel, although she's been working on it since she was 18. (She's now late 30s). It was rejected a number of times apparently, but finally published this year to considerable critical fanfare.

Betty, the author's Mum, was the sixth of eight children born in 1950s Appalachia to a white mother and a Cherokee father. This is a fictionalised biography with the mandatory dark family secrets and considerable social commentary attached: poverty, racism, domestic violence, yada, yada. The author is a poet so there's plenty about landscape too. Surprisingly enough, the Native American Dad turns out to be the good guy. Betty eventually leaves home to make her own life after he croaks. And did I mention violence? A helluva a lot of violence.

Third person from various POVs.

The family members, those that live past infancy, are all keenly drawn and generally convincing.

Impressively lyrical as you might expect from a self confessed poet. A spare writing style would have suited the often grim subject material better IMHO.

Bottom line
Ms McD can write, and the tale is obviously of great personal significance to her, but the themes and tropes were familiar from any number of other books I have read, and it felt overwritten to this grumpy old white man.

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