Carter, Betty Smartt 1965-
CARTER, Betty Smartt 1965-
PERSONAL: Born April 10, 1965, in Hopewell, VA; daughter of Kennedy (a pastor) and Mary (a homemaker; maiden name, VanVoorhis) Smartt; married Jon Carter (a teacher), 1987; children: Joanna Ellen, Emma Katherine. Education: Wheaton College, B.A., 1987. Religion: Christian/Presbyterian. Hobbies and other interests: Painting.
ADDRESSES: Home—1139 Rowan Rd., Leeds, AL 35094. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Novelist and elementary school art teacher.
MEMBER: Sisters in Crime, Wheaton College Scholastic Honor Society.
I Read It in the Wordless Book, Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI), 1996.
The Tower, the Mask, and the Grave, Harold Shaw (Wheaton, IL), 1997.
Home Is Always the Place You Just Left: A Memoir of Restless Longing and Persistent Grace, Paraclete Press (Orleans, MA), 2003.
Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership magazine, Athens magazine, and Georgia Journal. Also serves as contributing editor to Books & Culture.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel tentatively titled While Rachel Weeps; a children's book with illustrations.
SIDELIGHTS: Betty Smartt Carter is the youngest member of a preacher's family from southern Virginia. Her first novel, I Read It in the Wordless Book, focuses on deeply religious characters who must come to grips with their human flaws. The setting is the 1970s in Dutch Falls, Virginia. Twelve-year-old Carrie Grietkirk has been raised by her grandmother since the death of her mother. Her father is returning from missionary service in Thailand with a Vietnamese bride. Carrie's grandmother prays for the Vietnamese refugees at their Dutch Reformed Church but cannot accept the young wife. Ginger Jordan, a former Broadway actress, comes to town offering Carrie a glimpse into the world outside conservative Dutch Falls and the safety of her family and community and makes Carrie re-evaluate her outlook on life.
Library Journal contributor Melissa Hudak wrote that Carrie's musings as she considers her life options are "touching and humorous," concluding, "This is a charming, well-written first novel." Carter's second novel, The Tower, the Mask, and the Grave, is a mystery involving Christian themes.
In 2003, when she was still only in her thirties, Carter published a memoir, Home Is Always the Place You Just Left: A Memoir of Restless Longing and Persistent Grace. Reviewers appreciated its emotional honesty and engaging prose. A writer for Publishers Weekly noted that Carter both honors her religious upbringing and acknowledges its "idiosyncrasies and parochialism." Trudy Bush, in Christian Century, similarly noted that Carter's memoir is distinguished by her "relentless efforts to live a life at odds with her intellect and emotions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books & Culture, November, 1996, p. 15; September, 1997, p. 33.
Christian Century, October 18, 2003, Trudy Bush, "True to Life: Five Spiritual Memoirs," p. 30.
Christianity Today, November, 2003, Cindy Crosby, review of Home Is Always the Place You Just Left: A Memoir of Restless Longing and Persistent Grace, p. 83.
Library Journal, November 1, 1996, p. 52.
Publishers Weekly, April 14, 2003, review of Home Is Always the Place You Just Left, p. 64.