What saves Betty from a total descent into melodrama is the very serious intent that underpins each section. McDaniel is never flippant with her themes or characters. Each of the siblings is vibrant in their own right, and the parents in particular are believable, fully rounded creations. Readers may be shocked at the details of abuse within the family, but it is the broader culture of sexism and racism in small-town America that stays in the memory. 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.