A Memoir

Book - 2015
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"When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself--an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook--in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can't bring himself to force her from the home both treasure--the place where his father's voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay. As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty's life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town-crumbling but still colorful-to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. "--
Published: New York, New York :, Viking/Penguin,, 2015.
ISBN: 9780525427209
Branch Call Number: 306.874 HOD
Characteristics: 278 pages ;,22 cm


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DBRL_IdaF Nov 14, 2019

On this cover, I like the juxtaposition of what you see in the mirror, as opposed to what's in front of it.

DBRL_KrisA Nov 27, 2016

On the surface, Bettyville is the story of how the author returned to his small Missouri hometown to take care of his elderly mother. And if the book had been just about that, it would have been beautiful. But this book is about so many other things, as well: growing up gay in a small town; the a... Read More »

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Feb 19, 2021

Newcomers for July 20.

Aug 20, 2019

I attended the same High School a few years earlier than George and my main goal upon graduating was escape. After learning of George's suicide a few weeks ago I decided to read his memoir. I'm saddened by the fact that he was never really able to escape a place in which he was made to feel that he wasn't good enough. On every visit home, now to visit my mother in Monroe Manor I count my blessings that I was able to escape. I agree with some of the reviews that at times the narrative seems a bit choppy but the message is clear. Rest in Peace Little George.

Aug 07, 2019

"I am staying not to cling on, but because sometime, at least once, everyone should see someone through. All the way home."
I absolutely loved this memoir. The author was so well-spoken, and communicated his personality perfectly. Rest in peace, George Hodgman.

Apr 06, 2019

I enjoyed the read, not a book I would pick, George remembers,the past, with thoughts, situations, people and places, and then describe the same in the current moments, while careing for his mom.
He thinks about who he is, how he lives, and what's to come.
Thank you for book pick

Jun 27, 2018

George, an editor, finds himself out of work, and has recently left Manhattan to return to his hometown of Paris, Missouri to look after his aging mother, Betty. Written in an episodic style the narrative interweaves into the main story of George’s experiences in caring for his mother his own life experiences and struggles, growing up in a small town in Missouri, wrestling with his sexual identity, experiencing life as a gay man in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, living a fast paced life in New York, and struggling with drug addiction and self-acceptance. One of the major issues that traverses both George’s past and present is his family’s reluctance to accept his sexual orientation. In a witty and candid exploration of this issue, Hodgman offers a deeply honest look at his life and the life of his family. This is an engaging, and at times heartbreaking, read, which I would highly recommend.

Oct 11, 2017

I kept asking myself what I'd do in this situation. This author left his career, his city, his life to care for his mother in a place that wasn't the most welcoming, nor the most interesting, inviting, entertaining, or really anything remotely positive in the way of opportunity.

Mostly, though, it's a joy to be led along by a brilliant author through an experience you will never have and enjoy the good, bad, and unusual. And I did.

Feb 07, 2017

When George Hodgman returns home for his mother's 91st birthday, he realizes that she can no longer manage life on her own. As George descends into what he calls "Bettyville", he struggles to care for her while trying to lure her into assisted living at Tiger Place. As the parenting role slowly reverses between mother and son, the reader is drawn into several journeys -- Betty's life as it parallels the decline of small town America, George's life who couldn't wait to escape a small Missouri town because he was always different, and the lives of ancestors who built an America that is rapidly fading away. Any reader who helps take care of an aging relative will recognize the tears and humor involved in George's situations and predicaments with his mother.

DBRL_KrisA Nov 27, 2016

On the surface, Bettyville is the story of how the author returned to his small Missouri hometown to take care of his elderly mother. And if the book had been just about that, it would have been beautiful. But this book is about so many other things, as well: growing up gay in a small town; the author's struggle with addiction and recovery; the disappearance of the small town due to big-box stores and industrial agriculture.
Hodgman's mother (the Betty in Bettyville) and father are not touchy-feely people; Betty goes rigid if George tries to hug her, and she hates receiving help from anyone, so having her grown son take over is uncomfortable for both of them. It also makes it near impossible to discuss anything of importance - Betty's health, George's sexuality.
Ultimately, this is a beautiful homage to Betty and a fond remembrance of Hodgman's childhood.

bibliotechnocrat Oct 05, 2016

Coming from a family of silence myself, I found this memoir all too real. Ostensibly Hodgman's account of moving from Manhattan to Missouri to care for his ailing mother, the book is really about Hodgman himself overcoming shame, working through survivor's guilt related to the AIDS crisis, and finding the strength in himself to carry on, to be the man he needs to be for his mother's sake. At times, reading this is like watching a car wreck - helpless to reach out and tell the young Hodgman that it will be okay. In the end, it is a hopeful narrative about the human capacity for growth. A good read.

My favourite quote is from a sequence in rehab. A counsellor asks "who said you were bad [for being gay]? Hodgman responds: "Are you, like, new to this culture?"

Sep 05, 2016

This book is generous in describing the authors interior life while taking care of his elderly mother. His frustrations at his own limitations was familiar but the scenes with his mother was all too true. Invokes empathy galore with a dish of ethical issues

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JCLHelenH May 25, 2016

"I think people who feel OK in the world will never understand those of us who haven't."

JCLHelenH May 25, 2016

"Recovery hurts. Every feeling you escaped comes to slap you in the face."


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