Book Review: Straight Flies the Arrow by Sydney Tooman Betts

Hi friends! I have so enjoyed this People of the Book series from Sydney Tooman Betts, especially the merging of cultures that it depicts. Recently, I had the opportunity to review the third book, Straight Flies the Arrow, in which everything comes full circle.

About the Book

straight flies the arrowDuring the winter of 1841, Pacing Wolf, the esteemed leader of the Many Lodges, follows the trail of a brutal murderer, leaving behind his beloved woman, Small Doe.

When his tracking party returns without him, the Sparrow Hawks’ Real Chief pronounces him dead, insisting Small Doe grieve, but she cannot bring herself to give up hope her husband will return. The coming spring offers her few choices. She can accept the courageous new warrior chosen for her or risk falling prey to his war-society rivals.

Vengeance and loyalty, hatred and faithfulness, all vie within two enemy villages, one belonging to the Sparrow Hawks and the other the Allies, threatening to crush every hope of happiness for Small Doe and everyone she loves.

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My Thoughts

“…instead of driving me away, His own Son, I-Am-Savior, took my punishment.”

Sydney Tooman Betts’ People of the Book series will make God’s Word come alive for you in fresh ways. Not only does seeing His Story from the Native American’s perspective allow it to be seen with new eyes, but the story itself reflects THE Story, God’s story, in its plot and its characters. Perhaps none more in the series than the third and final novel – Straight Flies the Arrow.

While this can easily be read as a standalone, you really will to want to read the first two in order to understand book 3 in its full context. Because the story told on these pages brings full circle the story begun in A River Too Deep, showing how one woman surrendered to Jesus can influence generations. As you become caught up in this epic saga (which is easy enough reading for teens and up), you will also become inspired to reflect on the ripple effects in your own life. Whose life has influenced yours? Who influenced that person? And then that person? And so on? And… who are you influencing? A spiritual heritage is sometimes even more precious than a genealogical bloodline, and it’s always good to pause from time to time and reflect back on the people who have shaped you.

Along with the spiritual impact, there is also a cultural impact that comes from reading this series. The interactions between tribes as well as with the white community highlight themes that are still relevant today. This shows up even more clearly as we follow Eyes-Like-Water through each book.

Pacing Wolf’s and Small Doe’s story is emotional and compelling, and it will tear at your heart in every way. The setting wraps around you vividly, and you will experience it as though watching it unfold first hand. These characters are not easily forgotten, and their story will linger long after you’ve closed the book.

I requested the opportunity to read this book through Celebrate Lit.
The opinions expressed are my own.
This review was originally posted on

About the Author

sydney tooman bettsSydney Tooman Betts and her protagonist-husband currently reside near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several early chapters of this book.

While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed) was involved in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level and serving as the Sunday School Superintendent, Children’s Church Director, or Women’s Ministries facilitator in several evangelical denominations.

Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.


Have you ever heard the Gospel story told by a culture different from your own?
Eyes-Like-Water’s adaption of Jesus’ story in a way that assimilated best with the Native American culture is the part of this story that impacted me the most.


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