A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts

A Family Bond

A River Too DeepA River Too Deep by Sydney Betts is a powerful Christian historical adventure romance novel set in 1817. It is a truly compulsive read and a real gem. It is a fictional masterpiece.

There are numerous themes but the overriding one is trust in God. As the novel opens, Alcy is fleeing from Henry, saying “there were only two things I knew for sure – God held me in the palm of His hand, and none of this had taken Him by surprise.” Time and again throughout the novel, Alcy puts her trust in God. As He proves His faithfulness so Alcy’s faith grows and so does that of the people around her. “What is truly valuable cannot be purchased and that real security comes only from God.” Alcy, at just seventeen has learnt what some of us miss in a lifetime.

Much of the novel takes place in a native American camp. It is here that Eyes Like Water (formerly Alcy) shares the Bible. The people had been waiting for someone to tell them about the Creator and they were hungry to hear about Him. As Quiet Woman says “now I know the Creator rather than know about Him.” The novel deepened the people’s faith and it has the power to deepen the reader’s faith. Sydney Betts presents the biblical truths in a very matter of fact way. To follow what God says makes perfect sense, so why don’t we? Each chapter ends with a portion of scripture. The novel is not ‘preachy’ but speaks directly to the reader’s soul.

Within A River Too Deep is the theme of racial prejudice as Eyes Like Water states “I was sorry I had judged him a savage without knowing anything about his character.” Likewise the native Americans view the white man with fear and suspicion. Sydney Betts shows how we should never prejudge anyone but get to know the individual. The reader is reminded that God looks at our hearts and not our outward appearance as Eyes Like Water states “they were not the people of my flesh but had become the people of my heart.” Oh that we too would look beyond appearances to see the real person in front of us.

The novel is a wonderful study of marriage and family. Within the tribe there is the male hierarchy and obedient females. This may sound strange to the modern reader, but within the novel both the marriages and sense of family is strong as everyone is motivated in their role, out of love. There is a sense of community as everyone looks out for everyone else. As a society that is very ‘me’ focused, we could certainly learn from the novel how to look out and care for each other.

Within A River Too Deep characters have name changes between the white and native American communities. This reminds the reader that when one becomes a Christian, we are a new creation, the old has gone, and we are part of God’s family and can be given a new name like Abraham and Sarah.

I cannot praise A River Too Deep highly enough. The characters were all well drawn and easy to empathise with. The novel was written in the first person from the point of view of Eyes Like Water, and as such I found myself not just reading the novel but ‘living’ it. I felt an emotional bond with the characters as I journeyed through the novel. Sydney Betts did not just describe the setting, but through her vivid descriptions, she showed me the setting.

Whilst reading there were so many nuggets of truth to be gathered, such as “courage is not a lack of fear… but what you do when fear faces you.”

I have read a lot of fabulous books recently but A River Too Deep really excited me and will stay with me for a long time. If you have not read it, then you are missing out – download a copy today. As for me, I cannot get enough of Sydney Betts, so I am reading her second book Light Bird’s Song Next, and hoping she writes more, more, more!

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.  No monetary compensation was received and all views expressed are my own.



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5 thoughts on “A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts

  1. Julia, what can I say? Your review reminds me of how great and generous God has been to me. Thank you so much for all your kindness in reading the book, writing the review, and giving it such a glowing endorsement.

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