Today I have a special post to share: reviews of Tiffany McDaniel’s two novels. The Summer That Melted Everything was published in 2016, and incidentally, I won it from a blogger giveaway before I started blogging. At that time, I struck up an email conversation with Tiffany, and ever since I finished TSTME, I’ve wished for another book from her. I can’t even begin to tell you how much.
Four years later, almost to the day, Betty was published. Thank you to Tiffany and Knopf Doubleday for the early copy via Netgalley. As you can see here, I went a little overboard and bought every edition I could find, including a signed special edition from Waterstone’s in the UK. I also have a few editions of TSTME. I don’t own this many editions of any other books 😂, so I hope this is saying something!
Book of the Month members: Betty is available as an add-on this month!
Also, make sure to check out my instagram page for a special signed copy giveaway sponsored by Tiffany!
I have been looking forward to sharing these reviews with you, and here they are.
My Thoughts on The Summer That Melted Everything (from 2016):
|I love this author. Her writing speaks for itself, and I cannot wait to pick up her newest, Betty, today.
EPIC! This book was absolutely epic. I crawled inside this story, and I did not want it to end. I lived with the Bliss family during that hot summer of 1984, and I was attached to each character who was beautifully drawn, yet deeply flawed — and all so real and genuine. The issues of 1984 are still relevant today. The writing has incredible flow and pacing, and the descriptions, wow. I found myself reading and re-reading passages just to think about them further; to really get that visual effect. The entire book reads like a true classic – descriptive, timeless, epic, character-driven. Yes, there are dark parts to this story, but those dark places have a meaningful purpose. This book connected to my heart, and I will be thinking about it and these characters for a long time. I won a copy of this book, and this was my unsolicited, honest review. (I have since bought several copies for my shelf).
My Thoughts on Betty (new release, now available):
More than five-star worthy, my favorite book of summer 2020. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I read and loved The Summer That Melted Everything when it published four years ago. Incidentally, I won a copy of that book from a blog giveaway, and since it was autographed, I was put in contact with the author and quickly found she is as lovely and kind as I imagined she’d be.
When you read one of her books, now that I have two under my belt, I can say this with absolute certainty, the reader knows she has something special in her hands. Books don’t come written like this every day. Storytelling isn’t always this memorable. And you know all know I love books and authors, so at the heart of what I am saying is I absolutely adored this book. It’s THE book. My book of summer.
Betty is a story based on the author’s mother’s life. It’s written in first person with Betty narrating. She shares the earliest history of both her parents, and then takes us through the family’s life as her siblings are born, before and after she is born, and up through the years as she comes-of-age.
Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, in small town, Breathed, Ohio, which is a character all its own, Betty’s first person narrative is an intimate storytelling. She brings us right into the story, alongside her dear family, and this family? They have a loving father named Landon, a Cherokee storyteller who passes his gift on to Betty (and likewise to Tiffany, the author). Every story he shares is a glorious explanation of the way the world works. This humble, dear, vulnerable, loving father? I don’t think I could love a character more.
Betty’s mother, Alka, has a tormented past, and she has her share of difficulty with mental health as a result. The author writes about this with honesty and openness, while showing how most of the family adapts, supporting one another. There’s such tenderness between many of the characters, such complete devotion. There’s complexity, too, where their human nature comes into play, the push and pull so many families experience in their dynamic. No one is perfect, and Betty, with her insightful narrative doesn’t hide anything from the reader. Betty is bold and strong and completely authentic.
The family experiences a number of difficulties, big heartbreaks, strife, and losses, and every single time, Betty gets back up again. And through all of that, the family has each other. Some of the siblings are present for each other the most loving way. Landon is there to comfort, guide, and believe in his children, when they struggle to find meaning themselves.
When I was a mere 5% into this book, I fretted about not wanting it to end. This book is THAT good. The characters are living, breathing, loving, and endearing. They go through the darkest and most unsettling of times, and I was with them for every bit of this journey I never wanted to end.
I voted for The Summer That Melted Everything to win every literary prize in 2016. I will be right there shouting from the rooftops that I loved this book. Please be aware that while I call this book beautiful in so many ways, dark things happen to and within this family. That is not what this book is about. Powerful, emotional, beautifully descriptive and haunting, I will never forget Betty, her indelible story, or the way she shared it through her daughter’s masterful skill.
This review is a work in progress. I’ll be back to clean it up, and as I process more what this book means to me. ❤️
While I received a gifted copy early copy, I preordered both US and UK copies on my own. (Yes, I HAD to have the signed Waterstone’s special edition from the UK! Why doesn’t the US do more special editions?!)