The amazing story of the thirteen-year-old surfer girl who lost her arm in a shark attack but never lost her faith -- and of her triumphant return to competitive surfing.
They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing -- not even the loss of her arm in a horrific shark attack -- could come between her and the waves?
That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii -- a glorious part of the world, where it's hard to deny the divine -- Bethany responded to the shark's stealth attack with the calm of a girl with God on her side. Pushing pain and panic aside, she immediately began to paddle with one arm, focusing on a single thought: "Get to the beach...." Rushed to the hospital, where her father, Tom Hamilton, was about to undergo knee surgery, Bethany found herself taking his spot in the O.R. It's the kind of coincidence that isn't mere coincidence to the Hamilton family, a clan whose motto could easily be "the family that surfs and prays together stays together." To them it was a sign someone had a greater plan than the one they'd been working on themselves -- which had been to scrape together whatever resources they could to help Bethany rise to the top of her sport. When the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was "When can I surf again?" it became clear that her unfaltering spirit and determination were part of a greater story -- a tale of courage and faith that this modest and soft-spoken girl would come to share with the world.
Soul Surfer is a moving account of Bethany's life as a young surfer, her recovery in the wake of the shark attack, the adjustments she's made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God. It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows that the body is no more essential to surfing -- perhaps even less so -- than the soul.
Hamilton, a 14-year-old aspiring professional surfer from Kauai, Hawaii, made headlines last fall after she lost her arm in a shark attack. With the help of writer Berk and Bundschuh, a pastor whom the teen calls her "spiritual advisor," the teen offers an upbeat and candid if somewhat meandering chronicle of her life. She opens with the shark attack, then fills in details before and after this tragic incident, giving priority to the topics pinpointed in the book's subtitle. Her fervent faith surfaces often in her account: her church youth group figures prominently in her life, she prays before each surfing competition, she states that "Being tight with God is even more important to me than surfing" and, in discussing "God's plan" for her, states, "if I can help other people find hope in God, then that is worth losing my arm for." Hamilton offers copious background information about her close-knit family and her passion for surfing, as well as expressions of gratitude for the post-attack outpouring of support and donations from friends and strangers. Despite her narrative's sometimes overly zealous inspirational overtones, Hamilton's optimism, determination and resilience (she climbed back on her surfboard within a month of the attack) are undeniably impressive and uplifting and may well reassure teens dealing with distressing or life-altering events. Ages 12-up.